Is the consent of the first wife t...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Is the consent of the first wife to a second marriage obligatory?


Is the consent of the first wife to a second marriage obligatory?


In neither case is the wife's consent necessary. God has given Muslim men the concession to marry more than one wife. Therefore, when a man feels that his circumstances make it desirable or expedient to take another wife, he may go ahead and do so. The first wife may either accept the situation or ask for a divorce if she feels unable to tolerate the situation.

Having said that, I should point out that some Muslim countries have introduced laws making it obligatory for a man to obtain his first wife's consent before he can arrange a second marriage. This is not required in Islam. However, people are always advised to abide by the laws of their countries [such laws are made to avoid whimsical or unwarranted second marriages and ensure that the circumstances make it necessary or useful].

The other point I wish to make is that polygamy is allowed in Islam as a measure to solve some social problems. It is not a question of satisfying men's whims.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) indicated that one wife is always preferable so that a man does not expose himself to the risk of treating his wives unfairly when he is required to maintain fairness between them at all times.

It is not necessary to have one's wife's consent for divorce either. God the Almighty states in the Quran (2: 228) that men are given a step over women in the matter of divorce. This step is the right to terminate the marriage unilaterally even though it is a contract between two parties.

We must not forget that this is done within an Islamic context, because under Islamic law, it is the man who suffers financially in the case of a divorce. However, in many countries, the wife is far more adversely affected. This is unfortunate, but Islam cannot be blamed for what people do against its laws.

We must not forget that in Islam divorce is brought into effect through a long process. However, people often resort to it in a highly charged way, without consideration to the process and what it entails. In this way, they are unfair to their wives, children and indeed to themselves. This must never be the case.

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