Second marriage: Does it warrant a discussion?

dosri shadi

Someone sent me this article on Facebook yesterday and asked me to write about the issue of second or third marriage in the context of our country, Pakistan.

I have not heard about the writer of this column before or about his views. So it’s only about the contents of this article that I am concerned with. Before I share my views, I’d like to throw three questions:

1. Second marriage: Does it warrant a discussion? At all? Or, is it a non-issue? Because we have so many other worries on our heads – economy, Taliban, infrastructure, military-political rift, Indian elections, law & order, target killings, bomb blasts, BLA?

2. Is is okay/safe to talk about this issue in our society in a non-emotive manner, without some backlash from a vast majority of my female alumni (in 1’000’s)? A very large alumni come from a course I run called ‘Women in Leadership’. They may unfriend me from FB, LinkedIn, or start hating me lest their spouses read this piece on their walls/in their newsfeed.

3. Most of my alumni are West-educated, which legally prohibits second marriage. So, their worldview is formed in the halls of Oxford or American universities. Shall we attempt to see second marriage from their perspective? Or, our country’s social perspective?

What do you think? Let me hear from you, before I make some comments.

Related posts:

Forced marriages now a criminal act in UK

How to be a model husband

Saudi men banned from marrying Pakistani women


  1. As far as article is concerned , writer himself is bit confuse that what he is trying to make a point? In society there is no perfect thing. Well first identify the reason of second marriage , what is the main purpose and reason behind it , if valid then go for it if not then leave it. And defending having girl friend after marriage is out of question as in my point of view its totally against every moral, value ,religion. We dont have any justification to commit any sin. Thats what i think.

  2. @Wali Zahid, Discussion on this topic is a separate issue but I can see your fears while daring to ask these questions. 🙂

    @farah, In my opinion, having a girl friend even ‘before marriage’ is out of question and totally against every moral, value and religion. However, timely marriage is most important and can save people from committing sins. As long as the 2nd, 3rd or 4th marriages are concerned, these are allowed in our religion without any doubt but under certain conditions and circumstances which should be considered on merit, not just for the sake of opposition.

  3. Second marriage should be accepted by society if it is done in accordance to Shariah and not lust.
    If the man is financially and emotionally able to care for a second home and children, without discrimination, then this act should be encouraged. However, in a society that has the wrong knowledge and thinks its right is a lost cause. Try this in one that needs knowledge.

    1. “Second marriage should be accepted by society if it is done in accordance to Shariah and not lust.”

      Please enlighten us on “in accordance to Shariah”.


      1. As many women have replied on Wali’s Facebook post of this topic. If a man can fulfill his obligations as a husband of 2 or more wives as defined by Shariah, then there is no harm in exercising his right of multiple marriages. However, I’m baffled how this abusive society will cope with this common sense dilemma, it will be something like acknowledging the third gender

  4. My answer is a big Yes in support, so please don’t get offended, have patience and read on my comments & of all those who are supporting this. Remember, I am not expressing my personal ‘desire’ but expressions are based upon what I am watching around & fearing about for the near future. And I am a father of 2 daughters too, Alhamdolillah.
    Unfortunately we are a society dominated (extremely) by Hindu culture, away from basic Islamic teachings and madly following Enlightened Moderation phobia.
    Bombardment of satellite channels, Facebook, free SMS , unlimited talk-time packages, NGOs pushing our women to go out, ask for equal rights, make a career and be like men has confused the society and dragged us away from Religion.
    In totality, we need to teach our children to love Allah & follow the Sunnah. We spend hundreds of thousands rupees in educating our children but hardly send them to a Masjid or Madersa to learn Deen and develop Fikar of A’akhirat. This is mainly because we only see the world ‘as it is’ and strive for success in this world only rather than having concern & fear of standing in front of Allah on the day of Judgement and preparing for the final destination.
    And for women, is it not good to know that your husband is engaged in legitimate relationship with a women you know rather than hopping around & ending up in hell fire, don’t you want to go to Jannah? and take your husband to Jannah?
    On the other hand, just assume (Allah forbid), if a man has same relationship (illegitimate) with your sister or daughter, how would you feel for the man & the woman?
    We need to be realistic and try to please Allah, not the world.

    1. Agree with Shahid Qureshi and Farheen Usmani. It should be done, but only on merit and if could be equality maintained.
      Rest for the longer comment of Mr.Zuberi , i disagree with most of points he came up with.
      I would just ask especially the highly conservative part of society to come up with what ideals of Hell and paradise they talk about, when we all are equally responsible for this unhygienic, immoral society. If we are not able to use technology well , we should not be blaming it too.

      “Bombardment of satellite channels, Facebook, free SMS , unlimited talk-time packages, NGOs pushing our women to go out, ask for equal rights, make a career and be like men has confused the society and dragged us away from Religion.”

      Why women had to ask for rights ? Maybe really we are confiscating there rights somewhere too? or this is a NEVER CAN HAPPEN THING ?

  5. Let’s talk a bit openly.

    1. Why do people think that ‘lust’ is a very bad thing and it’s against Shariah? Lust means, according to the dictionary, “intense sexual desire or appetite”. It’s one of the basic instincts that every human being has. Allah Almighty created man with this instinct along with many others. It’s part of the nature and Shariah can never be against the nature.

    2. Allah Almighty created man and immediately started teaching him how to be civilized. The first lesson was of wearing the clothes. Allah Almighty sent all his messengers and prophets to teach the mankind with the lessons of civilization. Marriage is the civilized way of fulfilling the natural sexual desires.

    3. Allah Almighty has created every human being different. One can be strong and the other can be weak. One can be tall and other can be small. One can be fat and the other can thin, and so on. Similarly, one can have more sexual desire and capability than others. One may need more wives while others just one or may be there’s someone doesn’t even have a sexual desire for several days or weeks.

    4. Having more than one wife is a natural requirement for someone who has more sexual desire than others. Before Islam and in Islam it has been permitted but in Islam particularly it’s made conditional to being more ‘civilized’, i.e., doing justice and treat them equally. Here justice means, after providing the basic necessities of life, give equal time for intimacy.

    5. Now the question about the permission of second marriage from the first wife was the main point of debate. Here I would give my opinion that only the husband and his wife know about how much sexual desire that man has. They should first talk to each other and mutually understand each other. The wife should try to fulfill his husband’s desires by all natural means and other the other hand, husband should also be taking care of her, treating her as a human being not a sex machine.

    6. If the wife realizes that she cannot fulfill her husband’s desires even after an extra effort, she should allow him to have a second marriage. But if she doesn’t allow him knowing the fact that her husband has more sexual desire than she could fulfill then the husband has the right to have the second marriage without her permission but only if he’s really capable of doing justice to the both. He can even have three or four wives at a time but still the condition is ‘justice’.

    7. Many wives do not realize that they are for their husbands only. They should first please their husbands and try to give them complete satisfaction before any other work. A satisfied husband is always loyal to his one wife and doesn’t go for a second marriage. But an unsatisfied husband would somehow manage to get another woman legally or illegally. It’s better to keep him satisfied or allow him to have another wife.

    1. Mr. Qureshi, the issue of second marriage is not based on ‘desire for more’ only. Instead, it is to provide ‘protection’ mainly as in many cases we will find more women available VS men in our society. The entire idea is based upon saving women’s dignity from becoming a commodity in the market place as is the case unfortunately and is being followed by the West and we see and hear about Single Mothers or Father less children.
      Secondly, there is no law or compulsion to even ‘ask’ or obtain ‘permission from wife’ for second marriage, this permission column was added during the days of Gen. Ayub Khan. And logically speaking, it is the man who is going for second marriage not the women, so what is the sense of asking woman? and who would give permission, one in a million hardly.
      Thirdly, when Quran gives permission for marrying more than One, it surely puts conditions (strict) to be followed, else man shall stay with one marriage. So its not for ‘lust or fun’ it is a Responsibility to do justice with 2, 3 or 4 women.

      1. Nasir Zubri’s concept is very clear. In shari’a it is allowed to go for 2nd, 3rd or 4t marriage.
        Just think of a person who has sound health and wealth to maintain four wives and he opted then onward who can assure that he will remain the same in wealth as he was before?
        So Its a metter of shelter and society not for a men or women.

  6. Mr. Ghani, I think I couldn’t clearly elaborate my point. The text you copy-pasted from my initial response is actually the main cause & effort of making our women a commodity, so that they become freely available for men to use & throw. Second marriage or having more than one wife has 2 main advantages as mentioned in my other response that it is to provide protection & safeguard dignity. World outside the house is full of men seeking unprotected women and taking full (unjust) advantage.
    This is not a conservative approach, we need to read the Quran with translation first then should go to a certified Aalim and try and obtain answers to our questions. Going to a cobbler & asking for the medicine of muscle cramps will only deteriorate our health.

  7. Dear Mr. Wali, I am really interested in hearing from the Women in your forum on following 2 points;

    a) how protected they feel when accompanied by their Brother or a so-called caring unmarried colleague while out on the road, meetings or trips out of the town or country?
    b) does the response of your colleagues remains the same when you tell them that you are engaged, married or Nikah yafta and waiting for departure (Rukhsati)?

    Ladies, please comment anonymously with using any common name.

  8. I do not have any intentions of offending any one or casting doubt about anyone’s Muslim’ship! Just some food for thought.

    I think first we need to decide if we are Muslims or Not. If we are then what is said in Qur’an should be sufficient for us. For example I do not need any arguments to convince myself that Allah swt is the only God and Muhammad swt is the last messenger of Allah swt – period! Same is the case with multiple marriages. If its written in The Book, its part of my belief, else my Eeman is doubtful.

    The argument actually starts (within Muslims) when we pitch ourselves against the wisdom of Allah swt. When we start feeling that we are so intelligent that we can, Naoozubillah, challenge the wisdom of Almighty Allah swt. And this is not limited to second marriage; its also the case with Women as a witness, wife’s inheritance from husband and other similar issues. We should either accept Allah swt as Superior of the Superiors and the Final source of wisdom, or we should stop claiming to me Muslims. Then yes, we can certainly have arguments based on facts and figures and statistics (which actually fully support the wisdom of Allah swt).

  9. Whereas I accept that no “subjugation of women in the name of Religion” is allowed, likewise no Islam-Bashing is allowed in the name of liberalism & women rights. If anyone wishes to challenge anything that is CLEARLY written in Qur’an then s/he should first declare that s/he doesn’t believe in Allah. We can then certainly talk about logic and all that which we are really proud of as “human beings” (without thinking who made us “human being”).

    But as True Believers I don’t think we can argue on Allah’s decisions without putting our Emaan in danger.

  10. This issue can be discussed from various perspectives social, economic, religious etc. I would let to apprise you of my opinion which is not in favor of second marriage and here’s why:

    1) Marrying multiple times, especially in country like Pakistan will lead to increase in population, we know that we already have scarce resources, adding to population would make the situation worse. I don’t wish to quote statistics about depleting resources here only to keep it brief.

    2) When your population exceeds your resources your crime rate increases, unemployment increases, frustration increases which adds to the misery of a state and its Government.

    3) A person would marry multiple times because he isn’t satisfied with his previous wife for what-ever reason it may be (physical, mental etc) once he marries again, how would he be able to maintain adl between his wives? I deem it practically impossible thus negating Islamic basic teachings which suggests that “No harm shall be inflicted in Islam”

    4) Islam as we may agree is NOT a rigid religion. We know it is for all the people till the end of times, which renders it quite flexible. Thus the notions of Ijtehad and Qiyas were stressed by Qur’aan and Holy Prophet (SAW) an example of which is suspension of hud panelty by Hazrat Omar during the time of famine.

    5) The concept of marriage in western societies may be on the rise but atleast those women are living with their partners willingly… In our Islamic societies (for whatever reason it may be) women are married off without their will and Islamic teachings, they are being traded to settle family disputes so as much as we abhor it, Western societies have a better of us on human and women rights atleast …. 🙂

  11. @Tabraiz Marri

    I think discussion is not about whether a man should have multiple wives or not. The question was whether, in Islam, it is Allowed to have multiple wives or not. Of course every man cannot have multiple wives as there are not as many women available for this kind of assumption.

    In your last Paragraph you are talking about exceptions as well as the ignorant of the society who have no idea about what Islam is. To take the point further just ask how many females on this forum were traded or used to settle family disputes. You will hardly find any.

  12. I dont see y this is such a big issue, according to islam a man can marry upto 4 for any reason including his lust, infact this is one of the main reason people marry. And once married the man can learn and improve on doing justice, u never learn to swim unless not in water.. so debating if one can swim without putting him into water is a waste of time. unless some really feels he cannot do justice he shall keep away.

    People must learn to sacrifice for Allah, like men take hardship defending land and fighting, women also take hardship if their men marries another woman, surprising no1 comes and tell men that injustice is being done to them coz they mostly form armies and fight and get badly wounded, imprisoned and killed etc..

    @ Marri When Quran verses r clear then there is no Qiyas or anything else such as ijma (in this way ppl will say praying salah 5 times is not an urf in america lol),; and we must follow Islam fully, so then resources wont be a problem, Islam also give full jihad doctrine which would provide us with more land and resources, problems starts when we only take sections from Quran and leave the rest.

  13. @Anjum, Pakistan is not so sampling from this forum would be unfair and case of wrong sampling. In Sindh alone, I can tell you of cases where women have been traded to solve family disputes, married to men of their grandfathers’ age, killed as a kari because the husband didn’t find his wife attractive anymore, or to kill his rival familys’ men. Are you suggesting women have more rights in Pakistan compared to west? Because my point was that in our so-called “Islamic” societies women are treated worse than animals. As far as marriage is concerned and Islam, I am not arguing about it because Islam permits it. My point is that Islam also asks its followers to adopt Qiyas and Ijtehad on matter of religion; why we Muslims have completely forgotten that? Why are we so intolerant to others’ interpretation of Islam? Why do we think that only we are true muslims and others’ have to accept that they are kharjis before entering a discussion?

    @Shahid, If you read carefully, I wrote “especially in a country like Pakistan” since you cited Guardian, I would like to tell you that Pakistans’ growth rate is 2.1% compared to 0.9% of worlds’. In Sindh alone, 70% children suffer from malnutrition… Pakistan is concerned a “water-scarce” country with water reserves of only 40 days compared to a suggest 12 months for countries with similar climatical conditions. So yes, I am suggesting that POLYGAMY would further complicate the situation !

  14. @Tabraiz Marri

    With 6 Years of Market Rese;arch exposure I do know a little bit about sampling and representative sampling 🙂 My point is that forced marriage and trading women for family disputes is not part of our society in which we live. As far as those societies of Sindh and Balochistan are concerned, they are not Islamic Societies (even ours is not!). At best they can be called tribal societies where majority call themselves Muslims. What they do, doesn’t represent Islam or Quran. Hence, based on their actions you can’t condemn of reject any of the Divine Laws. On the other hand I 100% agree that there are certain requirements, also mentioned in Quran, especially that of Adl between wives. Not just between wives, but also with the single wife, if you have one. On the other hand you can Ijtihad on certain things which are not clear cut in Quran or Hadith, but you can’t change the Divine Decisions. Otherwise tomorrow someone will stand up and say, “these days people are very busy, hence there will only 2 times a day Namaz instead of 5; or Zohar will have only 1 Rakat Farz instead of 4”!

    As far as your argument about Population is concerned, I think you might not like the fact that, in our country the Educated People have 2-3 kids and the Illiterates have 6-8. You know what the impact is? Educated are increasing at a slower rate compared to illiterates, hence widening the gap. The solution? The Educated people should have 4 marriages with max number of kids so that their proportion in the society could increase 🙂 Having said that, even if you want to have less no of kids in illiterate families, you can’t do it without educating them. And if you educate them, it will automatically solve the problem bringing jobs & resources for them; then the whole issue of scarcity of resources goes out of the window.

    With reference to your last para, now take a look at the West. They have increased their retirement age and people are crying about that. Why? Because they didn’t produce enough kids who should now support the elder members of the society. Older population is growing and elderly people will have to work to earn their living instead of using their pensions 🙂

  15. @Tabraiz Marri

    I think the water reserves can only be increased by building dams, Not by ‘family planning’.

    And what would be the complications if just 1% of the men get another wife?

  16. It’s surprising, that when our religion says a child boy or girl can never fulfill the rights of anyone of his/her parents we don’t tell ppl to stop having babies since they cannot do adl with their parents, and in not doing do they will go to hell.
    It’s surprising that when no or very few women can fulfill the rights of their husbands we never tell women to stop marrying since women cannot fulfill their husbands rights , however only when it’s to do with second marriage then everyone remembers adl, hmm quiet surprising is it
    Is it coz ppl just talk what they hear from others without thinking , or ppl don’t see tend to see in larger context.

  17. Wali, please note, people are agreeing to second marriage if it fulfills Shariah obligations and rights, but whether to acknowledge this in our society that abuses Islam to justify inequality is the main question. As I heard Maulana Tariq Jamil say ” If a society lacks knowledge, it can be saved. If it has the incorrect knowledge, it is doomed”. Show me common sense men, fair and balanced in numbers greater than this ‘educated’ social media circle, and I’ll help propogate the cause for this noble notion…

  18. @Farheen Usmani

    People are not agreeing to second marriage (that’s not really the question). Rather they agree that what is written in Qur’an about second marriage is correct and can not be challenged by humans that He Almighty has created.

    1. Which is the same as admitting that 2nd or more marriages is not taboo. The real question is, will society abuse the intricasy of what the Quran says, if this topic became as common as ‘gay marriages’

  19. If we take the religion out of the conversation, and look at human beings as a species of primates, A very small number primate species are actually monogamous. Polygamy is the most common primate behavior in sexual relationships among primates.

    Western legal system is actually against the natural behavior, hence the reason behind so much sex outside the bounds of marriage.

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