Qur'an 4:3 permits a man to have up to four wives (polygyny), provided he does justice to them. Qur'an 5:5 permits a man to marry chaste women of the book (typically Christians or Jews).

While polygyny is part of both Christianity and Judaism, it's not uncommon for it to be considered as against these religions.

Question: Is a Muslim man allowed to have more than one wife if his wife is non-Muslim and polygyny is against his wife's religion?

It's possible that this is forbidden because it's seen as a form of injustice, violating the wife's religious rights. It's also possible that the wife's religion is not recognized, so it does not enter into determining whether or not it is injustice.

It's also possible there's another reason determining if it's permitted/prohibited I haven't thought of.

  • 1
    "It's possible that this is forbidden because it's seen as a form of injustice, violating the wife's religious rights." I don't know of any instance where Non-Islamic doctrines change something from halal to haram or the other way around. The only way I'm aware of that Non-Islamic law is relevant in shariah is if a Muslim has a contract of protection with a Non-Islamic country he lives in, but the basis of that is his contract which Islam commands him to keep, not any acknowledgement of the authority of the Non-Islamic country to make law. I'd be surprised if the answer here was "no".
    – G. Bach
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 23:51
  • This is one of the reasons prenups are useful. Muslim or not, a person should tell his partner his/her future wishes. There are scholarly opinions out there where the wife can refuse her husband marrying over here due to their initial prenup agreement. Whether she’s a Muslim or not is quite irrelevant.
    – Shadi
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 0:05
  • Is it violating the wife's right? I mean she is not the one marrying more than one woman so even according to her religion she is not committing sin only the husband would be. So nobody is forcing her to do any actions against her religion.
    – The Z
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 23:09
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    @TheZ, it is not a simple matter. For instance, it is a Muslim's woman right to get separated from her husband and be eligible to remarry if her husband apostates. If a Christian woman is the only wife then her Muslim husband marries a second wife, thus depriving her of "her religious privilege" to be the only wife, what are her rights then? The cases and conditions are numerous. It is, however, not a question about Islam only as it involves social, legal, and other religious norms, which makes it unaddressable in its current format.
    – III-AK-III
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is permitted and was indeed the case over time. Here, I am starting off with your premise that neither Judaism nor Christianity permit more than one wife. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal documented the story of a number of companions who had married Jews and Christians while they were married to other Muslim women.

حدثني أبي قال حدثنا محمد بن جعفر قال حدثنا سعيد عن قتادة أن حذيفة بن اليمان وطلحة بن عبيد الله والجارود بن المعلي وأذينة العبدي تزوج كل واحد منهم امرأة من أهل الكتاب فقال لهم عمر بن الخطاب طلقوهن فطلقوا كلهم إلا حذيفة فقال له عمر طلقها قال تشهد أنها حرام قال هي جمرة طلقها هي جمرة طلقها قال تشهد أنها حرام قال هي جمرة قال لقد علمت أنها جمرة ولكنها لي حلال فأبى أن يطلقها فلما كان بعد طلقها فقيل له ألا كنت طلقتها حين أمرك عمر قال لا كرهت أن يظن الناس أني ركبت أمرا لا ينبغي لي

NOTE. My own translation, so treat with care.

Narrated on the authority of Sa'īd ibn Qatādah that Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamān, Talha ibn 'Ubaid Allah, Al-Jārūd ibn al-Mu'alla, and Uthayna al-'Abdi each married a woman of the people of the Scripture. 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb told them to divorce them, so they all divorced them except for Hudhayfah. 'Umar told him: "Divorce her." He [Hudhayfah] asked: "Do you bear witness that she is not permissible?" He ['Umar] said: "She is a live coal." He [Hudhayfah] asked: "I know that she is a live coal but she is permissible for me." He [Hudhayfah] refused to divorce her. After a period of time, he divorced her. He was then asked: "Should you not have divorced her when 'Umar ordered you to?" He [Hudhayfah] replied: "I disliked that people might think I had done something that I should not have done [by marrying her]."

— Masā'il al-Imām Ahmad, Vol. 2, pp. 320, Hadith 949

As for whether this would be considered a violation of the non-Muslim's wife's religious rights is a matter that cannot be addressed at large due to its wide range of context.

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