Jump to content

Men can marry mutiple wives - Why can't women marry multiple husbands?

Recommended Posts


"Why women cannot marry two man at the same time like Men can do in Islam." This was a question that was asked to me by a Bhuddist friend of mine and I was not able to clarify So can you explain me why ?




In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.


We believe that Allāh ﷻ is a unique, perfect, infinite being who is transcendent over space and time. Any being that is defect can never be God. As such, we Muslims firmly belief that every command of our Creator reflects wisdom. As Muslims, we are therefore more concerned about acting upon those commands to draw closer to the infinite Mercy of Allāh ﷻ than we are concerned about trying to understand the underlying wisdom behind them. The fact is that there are so many things that we don’t comprehend. For example, why are we to pray five times a day instead of four times or six times? Why did Allāh ﷻ choose the Arabic language to reveal the Quran? Why do certain chapters in the Quran start with letters, such as alif laam meem? Why did Allāh ﷻ prohibit the consumption of pig? Scholars in the past, present and future will try to explore the underlying wisdom behind these facts, but nobody can claim to know with 100% certainty what the reason is behind these commands.

We are not even able to understand our womenfolk, even if we have been living with them for 20 years, why they do what they do. How on earth are we then to encompass the various exotic reasons of a being that is infinite, that we can’t see and can’t hear?


The principle matter that needs to be understood is that if a person accepts the existence of Allāh ﷻ, then automatically he will go on to the next stage, the stage of worship. If a person does not accept the existence of Allāh ﷻ, then why would he bother to accept the wisdom behind any of his commands? As such, one should be careful not to be wasting his time in debating side issues, when the big issue (e.g. the singular existence of our Creator) is still under complete denial.


Nevertheless, for his personal information, he may consider reading the following article I wrote about the subject matter.


The primary objective of the creation, which includes Mankind as a whole, is to exemplify the greatness of God. As Mankind, we are to worship Allāh ﷻ. This worship extends beyond the perimeters of prayers to include every facet of our lives. Gender exemplifies this diversity by allowing the existence of various social structures that in turn are governed by the various laws of Shariah. Upholding these laws is the essence of worship of our Creator as this is by definition a manifestation of obedience and submission towards the Divine will of God.


As man and woman, we are all equal to Allāh ﷻ. This equality means that legislation and judgment in this life and the hereafter is on the same yardstick. Just like punitive laws apply to men, likewise they apply to women. Just like men are able to engage in economic activity, likewise women are allowed to do so. Just like men are required to pray, fast and go for Hajj, likewise women are required to adhere to all these commands. This is a legislative and spiritual equality, which cannot and should not abrogate the physical differences we have. We did not choose our nature; we rather have been created with these inherent differences. Religion is supposed to be a mercy, which only will manifest itself in the scenario where religion accepts and even embraces this human nature. A religion from a perfect being requires for that perfection to be reflected in itself. As such, a perfect religion is to accommodate for the welfare of the people at large. Any religion that fails to do so tends to be guilty of restricting the infinite mercy of the Creator to a select group of people only. When the legislation of our Shariah ought to reflect these differences, it therefore follows that one of the essential matters pertaining to gender in Islām is outward distinction. Men are to grow a beard; women are to grow their hair. Women bear children, men protect their families.


These physical differences give rise to diversity in the social interplay of the different genders as each and every law is to reflect the innate nature, what we call fitrah, of a person.  These are codified social structures that intent to be in their very essence to be complementary. Man and woman are thus brought together under the social institute of Marriage that brings both individuals in harmony to form part of a higher system of worship. It is for this reason that the Messenger of Allāh ﷻ stated that: “Marriage is the perfection of one’s faith.”Allāh ﷻ in his wisdom has chosen men to be the caretakers of the family. The 4th chapter of the Quran, The Chapter of Women states:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.


This verse underscores that men have been tasked with an extra responsibility. As this verse states, men are socially expected to financially support their family. This social distinction basically means that men are in a position of leadership whereas women are in a position of obedience to that leadership. The verse continues:


Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard.


This is a complementary relationship, as opposed to a co-operative relationship, that ensures the correct functioning of the nuclear family, both internally and externally. It should be noted that there is a lot of wisdom for deciding the position of leadership on a matter that is beyond the control of the parties involved, namely gender, instead of making it subject to an arbitrary choice. In the latter case there will always be scope for doubt that may lead to social rife. When the responsibility of leadership is dependent on gender instead, it will be easier for both parties involved to accept the distribution of the roles concerned. Other biological factors, such as race, even though impartial, are not universal enough to provide a realistic solution to the problem involved. Especially when it comes to marriage, as inter-racial marriages historically speaking is out of the norm.


Because of this particular orientation of gender roles within a family structure, it therefore implies that Islâm can accommodate for polygyny as opposed to polyandry. When the husband is to bear responsibility of leadership of the family, it logically follows that polyandry would undermine this position, leading to conflict and a kind of paralysis. Due to the various dynamic needs of individuals, a family cannot be lead by compromise. One husband wants to relocate to a new area and the other husband wants to remain, obviously such a relationship is impractical. Polyandry as a system to accommodate people worldwide at all times is doomed to fail. It is true that certain companies like Samsung are lead by three CEO’s, but such co-operative structures are rather the exception than the norm. Since Islâm is to reflect human nature, the various gender roles and the legislation that governs them is to be in accordance as to what generally will work, not what exceptionally might work.  A ship is to be sailed by one captain only, not two.


There is also the component of lineage. In the current system that we exist in, it is our natural disposition, our fitrah to only truly care for our own children. As humans we can sympathize with the welfare of other children and we can even feel sorry for the hard time a family has to go through when bereaved of their child in crime, drugs, terminal disease or accident. However, the eye of the beholder can never compare to the tearing eye of the one involved. This fitrah on our part makes it impractical for a non-parent to look after someone’s child. Polyandry ultimately leads to an obscuration of the lineage of a child. Children are the future of society, and for them to become an asset, they need to be nurtured in an environment of love. An environment where there are reasonable grounds to doubt as to which husband the child belongs to, is not stable enough to sustain the love and care required. DNA will not provide a solution either, as a World Religion is to accommodate for all people, past, present and future. On top of that, DNA tests are subject to human inefficiencies, giving scope for error. As such, the only thing that can be resorted to is the word of the mother as to whom the actual child belongs to. Again this is arbitrary, leading to inheritance disputes.


Lastly, there is the component of rebellion. It is human nature on part of man that he simply cannot tolerate someone else having conjugal relationships with his wife. In the case of polygyny, the jealousy of a woman is curbed by the leadership of her husband. In polyandry however, both men are on equal footing. As has been noted above, besides gender any other impartial variable available is absent which gives rise to a vacuum ready to be filled with adversity. When women fight, they pull each other’s hair. When men fight, they go to war.

Since polygyny does not have to deal with these sets of problems, our Shariah has allowed it so as to historically speaking, guide different people and diverse societies through various challenges they may be facing, such as a shortage of men available for monogamous marriage, in a way that promotes social stability instead and avoids social adversity. Also note that even fraternal polyandry would be impractical, as in Islām we don’t even permit sororal polygyny (e.g. the wives are sisters).


If a marriage breaks apart, the parties involved tend to be embittered. As close relatives, we are not allowed to break our family ties which are clearly endangered in a case of divorce in a fraternal polyandry or a sororal polygyny. The purpose of this small treatise is not to argue that polyandry as a system is impossible to implement. The purpose is to rather argue that in the current framework of our human nature, there is a plausible scope to implement polygyny as opposed to polyandry. Next, when polygyny is better than polyandry, it does not make sense to singularly legislate polyandry, nor to legislate both of them at the same time. The whole purpose of marriage is to create social order, which is defeated in the chaos resultant from the co-existence of both institutes of marriage. If one wants to advocate the existence of both institutes, then rather have no marriage at all.


And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Khalil Johnson

Student Darul Iftaa


Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I tell my non-believer friends what girls cant practice polyandry while guys can practice polygny, I find it hard explaining it to them why Allah has programmed women to not be able to have multiple husbands….

When I tell my non-believer friends what girls cant practice polyandry while guys can practice polygny, I find it hard explaining it to them why Allah has programmed women to not be able to have multiple husbands. The insinuation here is, if it is not the religion that is sexist, it is your Creator who has made it biologically hard for your women to have more husbands. They argue, there are many women who have multiple boyfriends, and live happily. It should be the girl’s prerogative whether or not to have multiple husbands, even if it may not necessarily be beneficial for her. But if the right has been given to man, women should get it too.


The same inequality problem arises with testifying. Two women against one man’s witness. The argument put forward is women are physically and mentally weaker. But we know there are significant exceptions in the modern world, and if women would have been allowed to build muscular body in gym, etc they too have just as much or more or less the same mental or physical strength to carry normal tasks. If women’s periods are such a big deal, then how can you the religion generalize that men would not be falling sick either. Many men fall sick with flu, cold, etc. but in some parts of the world more than other, but that does not mean you take away the rights of doing something they are  probably” capable of.


The question really is, maybe its hard for some women, maybe other women find it not so hard, but why the ruling only for women to not marry more than one, or carry additional burden. There are many men who would find it hard dealing with mental stress and physical pains too in general life, but why did the religion generalize?


It is extremely hard finding a rational answer to the non-believer friends.



In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh


Before proceeding, it should be noted that it is difficult, rather impossible, to be rational with irrational and unreasonable beings; not to mention being it extremely detrimental to one’s Imān to maintain bonds of friendship with such people. Their obstinacy in rejecting the most rational, cogent and soundest of arguments will lead you to frustration, uncertainty and questioning in your own Imān. If your “friends” are christians or jews, they should already understand the impermissibility, innate contemptibility and irrationality of polyandry. If they are atheists, which can be deduced from statements such as “if it is not the religion that is sexist, it is your Creator who has made it biologically hard for your women to have more husbands,” how could it be expected of them to understand the rationale of the impermissibility of polyandry when they have failed or rather, chosen to fail to recognize the existence of their Creator? If they agree that women have been created and divinely programmed in such a way that inhibits polyandry, it would then be an exercise in futility to question why Allah chose to do so. What right does the feeble creation have to ask the sublime Creator why He created something in a certain way? As Muslims, we submit in totality to the will and order of Allah Ta‘ālā. We do not weigh the commands and dictates of the religion on the scales of our limited and scanty logic. Allah Ta‘ālā is Al-Hakīm (the Most-Wise) and His decrees are filled with wisdom and reason whether people can perceive them or not. We are not bound to understand and comprehend every order and decree of Allah; we are merely bound to submit our will to the will of Allah. Furthermore, it seems as if such people want free reign and an unlimited license to fulfill all their lusts and desires. This can be understood from statements like, “there are many women who have multiple boyfriends, and live happily. It should be the girl’s prerogative whether or not to have multiple husbands, even if it may not necessarily be beneficial for her.” Any rationale or creed that impedes this freedom and liberty is considered oppressive, illogical, sexist and retrogressive. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Holy Quran,


﴿ أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ ﴾


“Have you not seen that person who has taken his desires as his God?” (25:43)


Such people only follow the dictates of their passions. If their passions and desires decree to have illicit sexual relations with multiple partners in or out of wedlock, they do not hesitate to fulfill it. They submit wholeheartedly to such indulgent desires and then claim that any belief that discourages and prohibits such immorality as being sexist and unequal. Instead of worshipping Allah and fulfilling His commands, they want Allah to fulfill all of their whims and fancies. Regarding such people, Allah Ta’ala states,


﴿ أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا


Or do you suppose that most of them listen or understand? They are merely like cattle; nay, rather they are even farther astray from the (right) path.” (25:44)


They have been blinded by their lusts and desires. They merely wish to lead an animalistic and bestial existence and do not wish to see the truth or to listen to any form of logic or reason. Allah Ta’ala mentions in another verse,

﴿ وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ


“The semblance of those who disbelieve is like a person shouting at an animal that hears nothing but a call and cry; they are deaf, dumb and blind, so they do not understand” (2:171)


Despite the fact that such people will never desire to understand the logic and rationale of the iniquity of polyandry, we will enumerate a few points of consideration by way of example regarding its absurdity:


1.      If women were permitted to enter into polyandrous marriages, the lineage of children born from such marriages will be unascertainable. If a woman had four husbands, the child born to this woman could belong to any one of the four husbands. This would have serious psychological implications on the child. Furthermore, such relationships will have serious consequences on the inheritance rights of these children. You should ask the very “friends” who promote polyandry how they would feel if their own mother was involved in such a relationship. How would they feel growing up in an environment where they were not sure who their father was or how they would feel knowing that their mother was a woman passed from man to man in a polyandrous marriage? Such relationship would actually initiate the dissolution of the family unit, which is the basis for any productive and stable society. 


2.      Logically, there can be only a one-sided polygamous marriage – if both polygamy and polyandry were permitted, it will lead to a degeneration of the institution of marriage. If men were permitted to marry four wives and conversely, women were permitted to marry four husbands, what would be the need for instituting a marriage contract? One man would be married to four wives, each of his four wives would be married to three other husbands, and every one of these three other husbands would be married to three other wives. Would demanding such equality in polygamy be rational and logical? Every wife would also be the next man’s wife and every husband would be the next woman’s husband. The whole system of a family unit would collapse and within a single generation or two, the lineage of every child will be unrecognizable. Brothers will unknowingly marry their sisters, uncles would marry their nieces and aunts their nephews etc. This is the result of instituting “equality” in polygamy.


3.      Another flaw in polyandry lays in the fact that the wife will become nothing more than an infant factory, which, not to mention, is contrary to what the proponents of feminist equality and empowerment are lobbying. When the first husband desires a child, all other husbands will have to wait for the wife to conceive, deliver and nurse the child. Immediately thereafter, the second husband will demand his turn to father a child, thus the remainder of the husband’s will continue waiting for the same duration. No sooner than the poor woman’s second pregnancy and nursing terminates that the third husband rushes to father his child and so on and so on. The single wife will be on a figurative merry go round, from husband to husband, bearing children every year. She will have no time to tend to her children and their needs because her other husbands will be calling her to father their children on a repetitive cycle of reproduction. Needless to say, this would be extremely detrimental to the health and sanity of the mother as well as the upbringing of her children. How will the mother be able to fulfill the rights of each husband and his children separately? She will have to wander from house to house to give her motherly attention to one set of children at the neglect and detriment of the others. Otherwise, she will have to house all of the children from the various husbands by her whereby the husbands take turns to visit their children. Does such a system seem reasonable or sustainable? Moreover, how is it expected of the other husbands to restrain their sexual urges for so many years whilst the wife is pregnant with the other husband’s baby? Are we then to permit the wife to be intimate with all the other husbands whilst she is pregnant with one husband’s baby? What type of morality would such iniquity portray in the human race? Moreover, it is obvious that the husband will not be able to endure three years of patience before being intimate with his wife again, thus, he will engage in other promiscuous affairs.


The list of absurdities and irrationalities can go on; thus, for the sake of brevity, we will suffice with the above-mentioned points.


In regards to the claim of inequality between the witnessing of men and women, it is also unsound and contrary to the physical and psychological make-up of the human body. How can it be considered as inequality when the two, men and women, constitute completely dissimilar species and entities? Inequality would only arise if there were a disparity of rights concerning the same species of individuals. For example, if a father favors one son over another, this will be inequality since the sons are of the same genus. On the contrary, if the father favors his own son over his nephew, could this be considered inequality? If any impartial and unbiased medical expert is consulted, he / she will attest to the fact that men and women are different, physically and psychologically. Any neurologist will attest to the fact that the brain of a woman functions differently from that of a man. Consider the following research conducted by the neurobiological researchers of the University of California:


“Larry Cahill, an associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, and Lisa Kilpatrick, a former postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, have found that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure found on both sides of the brain, behaves very differently in males and females while the subjects are at rest. In men, the right amygdala is more active and shows more connections with other regions of the brain, even when there is no outside stimulus. Conversely, in women, the left amygdala is more connected with other regions of the brain. In addition, the regions of the brain with which the amygdala communicates while a subject is at rest are different in men and women.”


“The researchers used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans to analyze the brains of 72 healthy, right-handed adults (36 men and 36 women). The subjects were instructed to relax with their eyes closed while being scanned. When the scans were later studied, researchers found that not only was there a difference between the men and women as to which hemisphere’s amygdala was more active, but also that the regions of the brain that the amygdala “talked” with were also quite different. In men, the right-hemisphere amygdala showed more connectivity with brain regions such as the visual cortex and the striatum. In contrast, the left amygdala in women was more connected to regions such as the insular cortex and the hypothalamus.


The finding led to an unexpected discovery: Many brain areas communicating with the amygdala in men are engaged with and responding to the external environment. For example, the visual cortex is responsible for vision, while the striatum coordinates motor actions. Conversely, many regions connected to the left-hemisphere amygdala in women control aspects of the environment within the body. Both the insular cortex and the hypothalamus, for example, receive strong input from the sensors inside the body.”


“… Cahill has led the way in exploring gender-related differences in the brain. In a 2001 study, he showed that the sexes use different sides of their brains to process and store long-term memories. In another study in 2002, he demonstrated how a particular drug, propranolol, can block memory differently in men and women.”

In another neurological article entitled, ‘Men and Women Really Do Think Differently’ Bjorn Carey mentions;

“Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.”


“In human brains, gray matter represents information processing centers, whereas white matter works to network these processing centers.


The results from this study may help explain why men and women excel at different types of tasks, said co-author and neuropsychologist Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico. For example, men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics, Jung said, while women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions of the brain, which aids language skills.”


To lend further support on how the disproportion of grey and white matter between men and women affect the disparity and inequality of intrinsic sensory capabilities between men and women, which generally forms the basis of witnessing, the following passage will prove beneficial;


·         Grey matter – closely packed neuron cell bodies form the grey matter of the brain. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perceptions, such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions and speech.


·         White matter – neuronal tissue containing mainly long, myelinated axons , is known as white matter  or the diencephalon. Situated between the brainstem and cerebellum, the white matter consists of structures at the core of the brain such as the thalamus  and hypothalamus . The nuclei of the white matter are involved in the relay of sensory information from the rest of the body to the cerebral cortex, as well as in the regulation of autonomic (unconscious) functions such as body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Certain nuclei within the white matter are involved in the expression of emotions, the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, and in the regulation of food and water intake. These nuclei are generally considered part of the limbic system .


As the above articles mention, the regions of the brain involved in sensory perceptions, such as seeing, hearing and memory, is approximately 6.5 times greater in men. Thus, neurobiology in its latest researches conducted by the world’s best researches attest to the fact that men make stronger and more reliable witnesses than women due to their greater sensory perception. This ought to serve as lucid testimony to the authenticity of the message of Islam. Allah Ta’ala had revealed the Holy Quran over 1400 years ago alluding to such neurobiological facts which the scientists are only uncovering today. As Muslims, we might not have known of the facts of this new research, but our faith and conviction in the Holy Quran has driven us to accept the word of Allah as true even before the discoveries of such studies. Therefore, we are not surprised by such research, but it should strengthen our conviction. This research also lends credence to the undeniable fact that women are different from men. Would it be logical to accept two separate beings as being equal when in fact that are completely different from one another? Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher duly mentioned, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”   


In conclusion, it should be noted that being disparate does not necessitate one specie being better than the other. As previously stated, equality only applies to homogenous items of the same species. On the contrary, male chauvinists claim that men are superior and women are inferior. The feminists claim that women are exacts equals of men. In reality, both groups are wrong in their radical views. The correct position is that men and women are completely separate heterogeneous creations of Allah that complement one another in their dissimilarities. This phenomenon is witnessed on a daily basis throughout the creation of Allah Ta’ala for example, the sun and the moon, despite their dissimilarity, work in perfect congruity and union. The sun, in its grandeur, has one specific role to play whilst the moon, in its radiance, has a reciprocally different role. It would be absurd and irrational for the moon to cry of inequality and demand to be given the same function and position of the sun. Similarly, it would be illogical for the sun to make a similar demand. When the sun fulfills his function and the moon hers, both entities will beautifully complement one another in a balanced harmony enabling the system of the universe to endure. On the contrary, if one tries to compete for the function of the other, then the systematic celestial organization will lead to perdition.  


The same applies in the case of men, women, and all heterogeneous creations for that matter.

And Allah knows best

Ml. Yusuf bin Yaqub and Ml. Ismail Moosa,

Students Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Why is not Polyandry Permitted for Women?


One might ask that, if we permit Polygyny for men, why is not polyandry permitted for women? The answer to this question is simple since numerous natural and physical reasons, as indicated above, preclude this as a viable option. Men in almost all societies of the world have the position, domination and authority over the households due to their natural endowment and strength. Even if, for argument's sake, we forego the idea of their strength and suppose that a woman has two or more husbands, the question will arise: who will have the ultimate authority and leadership of the home - as this would create harmful competition, jealousy, anger and hatred among the husbands and result in great destruction in the society.


Moreover, if a woman were allowed to be married to more than one man, who would be the legal father of the child she bears, and how would fatherhood be convincingly determined? What would happen to the demography of the society after some generations of this arrangement? Would the men be able to remain chaste within their marriage vows in such an arrangement with one wife, or would he be tempted into promiscuity? The answers to all these questions are obvious. Since a woman can only become pregnant approximately once a year and she can get pregnant by only one man at a time, while a man can naturally impregnate more than one woman on a continual basis, it follows that it is more logical and natural that the man has more than one wife and that she doesn't engage more than one husband.


Above all in Polygyny, the man is responsible for the provision of all of his wives and children, which keeps everything in order, while this is not the case in polyandry, thus impractical from any conceivable angle whatsoever.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...