What is better, a man who has more than one wife or a lot of women who do not have husbands?

Mohammed Abdullah, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Al Azhar University


  1. This is a very personal decision that each individual has to anwser for themselves.

    For me, I would personally rather be single than married to a man with other wives. This is entirely based on my personal opinion of wanted to be in a relationship where all the other person needs to be whole is me. I do understand that sometimes there is a need for more than one wife or husband in a marriage but this is something I would not knowlingly enter into without carefully weighing the good and the bad of the decision. With marriage I believe that this is something you should take very seriousally and only do once in your life. With multiple spouses I think that you would not get the individual attention necessary to live a happy life. Also I think jealousy would get the best of me and I would end up resenting the other wifes whenever my husband spent time with them.

    I hope this gives you some insight into how I feel about polygamy but keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and many people (in the West and Arab worlds) will have objections.

  2. I think this is a great project! My name is Toni and I'm a woman from the United States (though I mostly live in Russia, and am currently living and working in Vietnam). This is my first posting.

    This is an interesting question. May I ask another question first? Are there a shortage of men in your society? Or specifically a shortage of men who can support a wife and family? It seems that is implied in the second half of the question.

    For me the issue rests on how one defines marriage. As a social contract? An economic necessity? A personal choice? A religious sacrament?

    I have to say, I am not against polygamy per se. I just wish for all human beings that they can make their own choices based on equal opportunity (education, legal rights, etc.). We have not achieved this yet for all Americans, but I do believe in the dream.

  3. Hello Mohammed,

    I think that your question would be relevant for looking at the early history of Islam when there were more women than men. I don't think it is relevant for Muslim societies now because there are equal numbers of men and women.

    In a population with equal numbers of men and women, when one man has four four wives, then there are three men who don't have wives. I've observed (I lived in Algeria and Somalia)that usually the men that have more than one wife are older and richer and the men that don't have a wife are younger and poorer.

    Under these circumstances I think polygamy can be harmful. I think a society with large numbers of young men who can't find a wife - because older and richer men have four - and don't have the stabilizing influence of family responsibilities is at greater risk for crime and political unrest.

    Given Islam's concern for harmony within the ummah, I'm surprised that so many Muslim continue to argue for polygamy when it can introduce such disharmony in the community.


  4. Mohamed Abd AllahApril 21, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    Thanks,Ben,Kate.W,Toni,and Alison,
    I would like to add something.When Islam allows men to have more than wife, It doesn't mean it's obligatory for men to have more than wife and women should accept this.
    Islam put many conditions for this. The most
    important one, If you want to have more than wife you must have justic. If you do not have justic you must stop thinking in more than one wife. This is the condition.
    On the other hand, Islam gives women all rights to accept or refuse to be the second wife. this is her choice. And every one in her family should respect her choice.
    Finally, Islam is not responsible about Muslims's bad behaviors, but Muslims are responsible about their behaviors. They must follow thier religion's teachings.
    Mohamed Abd Allah.