231020 - Polygyny and polygamy in the Quran


Al'hamdulilah, by God's grace, this is no longer a "question" for me.

Based on the translations of the Quran I've read, as well as the commentary, it's undeniable that one wife is what God prescribes (at a time) from what I can tell.

Fact. Prophet Muhammad had many wives. Al'hamdulilah.

God decided. God is good.

The ruling I'm going with? Chapter 4 ayat.

Note: the monotheist group's translation and Sam Gerrans' translation differ in a major grammar way, however, thankfully, the main message is still unchanged. More on that later if God permits.

4:1: O people, be aware of your Lord who has created you from one person and He created from it its mate and sent forth from it many men and many women; and be aware of God whom you ask about, and the relatives. God is Watcher over you.

4:2: And give the orphans their money; and do not substitute the bad for the good, and do not consume their money to your money; for truly it is a great sin!

4:3: And if you fear that you cannot be equitable to the orphans, then you may marry those who are agreeable to you of the women: two, and three, and four. But if you fear you will not be fair, then only one, or whom you are committed to by your oath. This is best that you do not face financial hardship.

4:4: And give the women their charities willingly, and if they remit any of it to you of their own will, then you may take it with good feelings.

4:5: And do not give the immature ones your money for which God has made you overseers, and spend on them from it and clothe them, and speak to them in goodness.

4:6: And test the orphans when they reach puberty, then, if you have determined from them comprehension, then give them their money, and do not deliberately consume it wastefully or quickly before they grow up. And whoever is rich, then let him not claim anything, and if he is poor then let him consume in kindness. If you give to them their money, then make a witness for them, and God is enough for Reckoning.

Note, that in 4:2 and 4:3 the God is speaking about the fatherless (often translated as "orphans"), and hence, the main condition here is

  1. Orphans in your custody
  2. Issues pertaining to equitable dealings with said orphans
  3. Major point: if you fear you cannot be fair, then only marry only one

This should be the nail in the polygyny polygamy issue relative to middle class, precarious wage earning folk:

4:129: And you will not be able to be fair regarding the women even if you make every effort; so do not sway too greatly and leave her as one hanging in a void. And if you reconcile and do right, then God is Forgiver, Merciful.

Note, God seems to be saying that it's not possible to be fair regarding women and more than one wife even if you try, however if that's the situation you're in, be equitable between women as best as possible so no one is left hanging.


Taken together, the likelihood of multiple married partners and those sorts of fantasies are pretty much, unequivocally off limits. Period.

Feb 2020 conclusion

Monogamy, understood as one marriage at a time I guess, is what God is generally recommending.

"Monogamy" understood as one marriage for your entire life, and no more, as some Catholics believe, goes against the Quran, because divorce and getting married again is permitted by God in the Quran.

"Polygamy" understood as having multiple marriages over a lifetime, so long as you are married to only one person at a time, isn't outlawed in the west. Under this definition, according to the Quran, women too can have multiple marriages over a lifetime, so long as they are married to one person at a time, as evidenced by the divorce related ayat.

Polygyny, understood as men being married to several women at once, is outlawed in the west, but the Quran clearly permits it (under very clear and narrow conditions).

While polygyny is permitted for men (again, under very narrow conditions), polyandry is not an option for women.

Polyandry for women would cause issues relating to determining the father of a child, and this would conflict with ayat related to the responsibility of the father of a child as it relates to caring for the pregnant mother during divorce. See the divorce related ayat in chapter 2. Once the baby in the womb is delivered, the divorced woman is free to marry another man. In other words, woman can have multiple marriages over their lifetime, so long as they are no longer married to another man.

Polygyny for men seems like a social service in times of severe hardship. Looks like if you are pious, wealthy, AND, have been given custody of fatherless kids, THEN a man can marry more than one woman.


  • 200222 - Polygyny and polygamy in the Quran


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