Polygyny Series: A Sisters Perspective (Post 1)

My blog is generally about my life and I do not focus it on religion. However, while chatting to a fellow sister, I agreed to do a series of posts of Polygyny. Polygyny is allowed in Islam. However it is brushed under the carpet by many, and misunderstood by plenty of others.

So InshAllah we will be doing regular posts regarding this topic on a Wednesday. Please note that these posts are not written by me, but a good friend and sister in Islam, who I will refer to as Sister H.

Please feel free to comment. However, I reserve the right to not publish any rude or disrespectful comments.
What would you want to know?
A sister’s husband proposed to and married her best friend without her knowledge. She and her best friend are pregnant at the same time, but wife #1 does not know that her best friend is married or pregnant. Wife #2 knows that at some point it will have to come out because her pregnancy will eventually start showing, but it is not her place to inform wife #1 of anything, it us up to their husband to tell his first wife that he is married again. In this scenario, nobody has done anything Islaamically wrong. However, as an only wife, how would you feel if your husband took on another wife without your knowledge and only told you after the fact?
In Islaam, a man is allowed to marry up to 4 wives, and contrary to what some people think, he does not need his wife’s permission to do so, and is within his rights to remarry without her knowledge, and to only inform her after the fact. It is however of good manners to inform her, and comfort her through any fears, insecurities and emotional issues which she may go through when her monogamous marriage becomes polygynous.
Every brother approaches polygyny differently, and how easy or difficult it is for a first wife depends on 2 things:
(1) her personal views and comfort level with polygyny on a whole, and
(2) the way her husband treats her and deals with her as he transitions his marriage to a plural one.
As women have no control over men, and cannot tell them what to say, do or how to act, it is up to us to look at situations and figure out how best we can deal with them, should they one day come our way. I cannot count how many times I have heard sisters swear up and down that their husbands want only them and would never take on another wife, only to see them devasted later on after learning that their husbands did exactly what they were sure that he could and would never do: desire another woman. It is for this very reason that I personally feel as though every woman should take some time to think about how she would deal with her husband’s interest, proposal and courtship, wedding planning, wedding, honeymoon phase, procreation and life, with other women.
How much would you want to know?
If your husband desired another wife, would you want him to come out and tell you? Would you want him to be honest and open with you about it from the start, or would you prefer that he hid his feelings of desiring another woman from you?
If your husband started being on the lookout for another wife, would you want to know about it? If yes, would you help him to look or would you prefer that he found someone all on his own? What if the person he found was compatible with just him but not with you? Would it bother you?
Would you want to know who was going to propose to? Would you want to be a part of the proposal, i.e. while he indicates his desire to marry her to her wali/wakil, would you want to indicate his deisre to marry her, directly to her as well?
If your husband wanted another wife or other wives, what type of relationship would you want with these women? Would you want everyone to stay in her own corner and have no interraction with you, or would you want it to be that there is 1 big family where everyone gets along and you have genuine friendships with your co-wives? If you wanted to get along with her after they married, then would you try to get to know her and be a part of the courtship process?
What if you wanted to be involved, but your husband wasn’t willing to have you be a part of the process, how would you feel? How would you deal with that?
Would you attend their wedding if you were invited? Would you be upset if you were not invited? Would you prefer that they marry first and not let you know about it until after their wedding? Would you help them prepare for the wedding?
I know that some people reading this may be thinking that they would never be in this type of situation so they don’t need to think about it, but trust me, it CAN happen to you. I’m not saying that it will, but it can.

Is it better to know before or after? What would you want?

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  • Asalamu alikum sis and jazak`allah khair for bringing the topic up … it defiantly is one that needs to be talked about as you said it is the mans right and he can do this without even telling the other at first … and believe me every man is thinking about it even if he tells you that he isnt , he is , i wish to keep my self anonymous but over the last year my husband came to me to tell me that he want to marry in the past i would have screamed shouted and told him over my dead body divorces me if that is what you want …. but at that time i said ok can you be just he said yes and you can managed 2 he said yes …so i said ok no probs well in that years he has spoken to a few and i even found a couple for him but nothing ever happened then one day he did find one and married her islmaically so as to make things easier for them to get to know each other … both of them are the same nationality and i'm not i was involved from the beginning and everyday she came to visit us so that we could get to know each other better as it was that we would all live together with my kids as well … we grew very fond of her but as things went along she just wasnt for him and he ended it .. even now myself and herself speak

    the thing is to place complete trust in allah and know that allah will only give you what is best for you … now i know some ppl thing what was wrong in my marriage that he would want another … but i will say my marriage was great at the time it was just something he wanted to so by following the sunnah and in the same time helping a fellow sister in needand even since the first day he told me he wanted to marr my marriage has even gotten better in more ways than i thought … now we are going through the process of looking again and in shaa allah allah will bless us with another and if so he will only give us what is best for us and even tho i am keeping myself anonymous in the futre once i have the co wife and all is going well i will no longer keep myself so secert and i wont care what ppl say

  • This is a really interesting post, I didn't know any of that so I very much look forward to reading more in your series.

  • Wa alaikum asalaam and JazakAllah Khair for your comment.

    It is interesting to see different opinions as I think I would 'scream and shout' if my hubby suggested it…..

    Maybe with more understanding I will change my mind…

  • I do truly believe this CAN happen to anybody and I am glad you started this series.
    Many questions but not so many answers. It is a case where we should turn to God for guidance, in my opinion. Today I would say if this was to happen to me I would decide to move with the flow of life. But I would never have said this a year ago, when I was still happily married.

    Looking forward reading more on this.

  • Salaam alaykum,

    I would want to be involved in the process. I would be devastated to find out afterwards.

  • asalu alaykum, thank you for talking about this subject… I always been open about this subject i would want my husband to tell me…. im not stupid, i would know if my husband started disapearing, three four times a week that some thing was going on.. so iv always been open about it so he feels he can tell me because my heart would break if he did it behide my back.xxxxx looking forward to reading more

  • I wouldn't be able to live in this type of marriage and Allah knows best,even if my husband was just between me and the other wife/wives,the fact that he loves someone else besides me would slowly destroy me,even if i was the favourite one.We discussed polygyny a couple of times before and i told him how i feel without us arguing,and told him we would divorce without any drama involved.He believed me,as i am actually too soft and not the one to argue or even shout.He told me,he fears that if he marries a 2nd wife,she would bring problems to myself and our kids,so inshaAllah he does not want to do it.I dont care about sex or jealousy,to me emotional support is more important.My father married a 2nd wife who gave too much problems to my mother and us,eventually too much black-magic became involved and the rest is history.

  • Asalam aleikum,a man can marry up to 4 Wives in islam if he can do JUSTICE between them and if he is financially and physically able to do so.Now i dont believe that this topic is brushed under the carpet by many,rather most brothers do a lot of injustices in these type of marriages but no one condemns them.Its always about the 1st wife being patient,when most times the 2nd wife is the one who enters polygyny hoping to be the only wife.Most sisters who want polygyny dont want it because it is sunnah,but because they were in abusive marriages before,they are divorcees,single,or they want what another person has got.I dont blame sisters who dont want to be in polygamy at all,this verse of loving for your sister,what yu love for yourself is being used out of context when it comes to polygamy ,because after a sister becomes a widow she wants to be a 2nd wife,while all the time she was the only wife of her husband while he was still alive.Where's the fairness here.Anyway everything that happens to us is a matter already decreed,if polygamy is not decreed for a person it will not happen.

  • Coming from a young-ish lady who once would never consider polygamy, but now is more lenient towards it. All I can say is, it all depends, on individuals, on your piety, and also how well it suits your life style. I think successful polygamous marriages are marriages of convenience – it suits each wife to have a man at hand, especially for women with many children, been divorced, older – younger women don't tend to consider this, because at this age your kinda looking for "love", but as they get older, priorities change. I have met sisters (older/divorced/with kids) who are looking to be a 2nd wife, simply for companionship or convenience. Lastly I believe the women who would "kill their husbands" for even thinking about marrying again, have some worldly attachment. When your your love for Allah is the greatest love you have, and when you attach yourself to Allah only (and not attach yourself to your family and spouse) then you will find yourself more lenient towards it, that doesn't mean you won't be jealous or be hurt ever – we are all human, but when you have Allah in your heart you don't need anyone else. I believe Allah gives us all specific test – in order to show us which attachments we need to cut in order to get closer to him, its up to us to realise – some women don't realise, as they are too busy being devastated that their husbands want to marry again. Our aim is the next world, so cut the attachment to things and people in this world and we will be successful inshallah. Personally, if this happened to me as a 1st wife, I would distance myself from the other wife/s and perhaps from the husband even, as I am quite a jealous person. However, my concern is with my Lord, and my husbands concern would be making sure he is just between his wives, for if he isn't, then he sure has something coming to him on the day of judgment.