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When it is said that a man can have 4 (or 3)* wives does it mean that he can't have more than 4 wives simultaneously, at any given point in time?

Or does it mean that he can't marry more than 4 times i.e. in his entire lifespan he can't marry more than 4 times irrespective whether the previous ones are divorced or not.

Reference required

* same applies to all the other places where 4 is used

  • Not sure but I guess the number 3 in your mind returns back to 3 times divorce between a couple prevent them from their marriage for the fourth time unless the woman first marries another guy and intercourse happens between them then she gets divorce from his second husband and remarries her first husband (of course after Eddeh time being passed). Otherwise I don't see any "number three" ever in such issues. What Quran talks about is obviously then about simultaneous marriage and all the scholars also approve this. – owari Feb 2 '14 at 22:02
  • Similar question: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/11943/… – Farhan May 29 '14 at 14:53
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Man can have up to 4 wives simultaneously at any given point in time regardless how many times he marries during his life span.

If the matter was other way round, it'd have been a well known and much discussed issue as it'd have clearly contradicted with common sense (i.e., imagine a man left with no chance of marriage who had divorced two women and the other two wives passed away before him; that would have been a complete injustice towards that man).

For reference, Umar, Uthman, Ali رضي الله عنهما all had more than 4 wives during their life time.

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In Islam, a man is allowed up to four wives if they are capable of taking care of them and treating them equally.

A man must not have more than four wives. However if one of these four wives divorces or dies, the man can remarry with another woman to complete four wives again.

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A man can not have more than 4 wives at a given time, it doesn't mean that a man can not marry more than 4 times.

In Sura Nisa 4:3, it is clearly stated that you may marry one, two, three or four girls, if you think you can do justice. Now justice only when you marry more than one girl at a given time, so this is clear this verse was related to marring multiple girls as the same time. There is no Hadit or verse which forbid you to marry more that 4 girls in a life span.

Reference: http://quran.com/4/3

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