Number of Wives Permissible to Marry in Islam?

Allah Ta’ala states:

“And if you fear that you will not be just towards orphan girls, marry the women whom you like - two at a time, or three or four; then if you fear that you cannot keep two women equally then marry only one or the bond women you own; this is closer to your not doing injustice.” (Surah Nisaa Verse 3)

Critics of Islam, especially the western world and even some Muslims, who only consider those things acceptable and good which their minds and intellect can understand, continuously condemn the issue of the number of wives allowed in Islam. In light of this it is very beneficial and appropriate to briefly shed some light and present the reality on this issue.

1. This is not an order which is essential for every Muslim to act upon. It is merely permission that is granted.

2. This permission is not merely granted without conditions. Rather, very strict conditions have been placed on the person who wishes to act upon this permission.

3. All medical personnel (old and new) agree that the nature of men differs from the nature of women.

4. Sexual desire in men is much higher than in women. The obvious reason for this is that after sexual intercourse a woman has to go through many delicate stages – becoming pregnant, delivering the child, breast-feeding and caring for the child. All these stages keep her so busy that her sexual appetite is diminished but men do not have all these responsibilities.

5. More female than males are born in most countries. Additionally hundreds and thousands of men are killed
in wars and battles and therefore the population of women compared to men increases.

6. From the beginning of time, all those places that place a limit on the number of wives to one, are in essence giving permission to commit adultery. Even though this abominable act creates countless evils it is not considered a crime.

7. Is it more tolerable for a wife to accept another wife for her husband or a mistress? Consider the mental, spiritual, monetary and physical aspects of this.

8. Is it right for any self-respecting and honourable woman to be the owner of a home and have a husband who is responsible for her well-being and safety and that her children are considered legitimate and she is considered respectful in society? Or should she display her beauty to all who will look but no one is willing to neither be the father of her children nor take on any other responsibilities?

9. In spite of all their scientific successes, are Europe and America not alarmed at the increasing number of
illegitimate children being born and unwed mothers? (According to a U.N. report, in some European countries, the number of illegitimate children born is as high as 70% of all births). They have publically started stating that there is no way out of this predicament without following the laws of the Qur’an. (Zia-ul-Qur’an Vol 1 Pages 317-318)

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