Second wife – A sister’s story


By: A Muslim Sister


“Second wife! The words reverberated through my brain. Why? Am I not good enough? Never! I will never accept a second wife! If you want a second wife you can go out and get one as long as you know that I will not be here when you come back!

Those were my words to my husband a few years ago when he mentioned to me that he is intending to marry again a second time. It was a woman recently divorced, 4 children. She is having a hard time, he said, she don’t know where the next meal is coming from or how to provide adequately for her children. “Where is their father?” I asked, “Can’t he take care of his own kids? Why do you a strange man have to carry another man’s burden? Surely there are other ways that you can help her out financially without having to MARRY her!

I could not imagine myself in a plural marriage. Sharing my husband with another woman. Sharing his love, his smiles, his jokes with a woman other than myself. I could not fathom him holding her close and whispering loving words in her ears. It was unacceptable. An outrage. After all I have been to him. Wife, lover, mother, doctor, housekeeper. I raised 3 of his beautiful children. How can he insult me by marrying another woman as if I am not good enough? Not pretty enough. Not young enough or just plain not ENOUGH!

NO! I could not accept that and I vehemently made my stance clear to him. If she walks in, I walk out! Plain and simple. If he is willing to risk our marriage, our life, our children for another woman, then he must go ahead. I will not stand for it!

It all seems so many years ago now. When I thought that life would last forever and that nothing will ever change. But it did….

My husband did not get married to a second wife. After all my warnings and threats of leaving he abandoned the idea. I don’t know what happened to the women and children. My guess is that they moved on to another town.

He never mentioned a second wife again and I was happy with that. I managed to hang on to my husband but I didn’t know that our time was running out.

His last words to me were that he had a headache and is going to lie down till Esha. He never read Esha namaaz that night, because he never woke up.

I was devastated by his sudden death. The man whom I have spent my life with, snatched away from me in a second. I mourned him for a long, long time. Neglecting my children and the business. Soon all went to waste and we started losing everything one by one. First the car then the shop, then the house.

We moved in with my brother and his family. My 3 children and I crowded the house and my sister in law soon became annoyed by our presence. I needed to get out, to work and find a place of our own instead of living off the leftovers of others. But I had no skill.

When my husband was alive we lived comfortably. I had no need to go out and work or equip myself with a skill. Life was very difficult for me and my children and I wasn’t young anymore. I missed him every day with every beat of my heart. How could one’s condition change so drastically?

One day my brother told me that someone he knew is looking for a wife. He was a good person, good akhlaq and very pious. Perfect for me, but he wants me to be his second wife.

It’s the second time in my life that the word second wife was mentioned to me. But how different the circumstances.

He came to my brother’s house to see me. There was an immediate connection between us. I liked him and I liked everything about him. He told me that his first wife knows that he is intending to marry again but that she is obviously not supportive of the idea and that he doesn’t know what her reaction will be when he tells her that he had found someone. His answer he said, will be dependent on her acceptance of Polygamy.

I started praying Istikhara that night. I so desperately wanted it to work out. I remembered so many years ago when the life of another woman depended on my decision and what my decision was. I felt contrite, I felt that because I did not give another woman a chance, a space in my life, that Allah will punish me this time around.

I repented, not once in my life did I think my action worthy of repentance because I had done nothing wrong. I only protected what was mine. Now that I am on the receiving end, I realized how wrong I was in denying another woman this PRIVILEGE of a husband. I prayed that she will accept me.

He phoned me a few days later telling me that his wife is having a hard time accepting it but that she is willing to meet me.

I was nervous the day of the meeting. I prayed a lot the day before and asked Allah to help me. When I met her, she was a person, a woman like me. A woman who loves her husband and fears losing him.

She took my hand and with tears in her eyes said: “This is very hard for me, but I hope that we can be sisters” her words broke my heart.

All I needed in these dark days was a hand reaching out to me and embracing me, giving me hope and the will to carry on. His wife was to me, the woman that I could not be and I will be forever grateful for that. I thought that no one could love her husband the way I loved mine, but she taught me the true meaning of unconditional love.

You never know a person’s situation until you are in it. Judge by what is right according to Qu’ran and you will see how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will sent double fold of blessings your way.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of


Categories: Europe

Tagged as: , ,

16 replies

  1. As long as everyone involved is fully consenting, and women are free to have more than one husband, then I guess there’s no problem.

    However, the part that leapt out at me was this: “I needed to get out, to work and find a place of our own instead of living off the leftovers of others. But I had no skill.”

    That excerpt speaks volumes. Women should be encouraged to get an education, acquire skills, be employable, independent, and an asset to the workplace, just as men are. Only then will women like this one have options available to them, rather than relying on the possibility of being someone’s second, third, of fourth wife.

  2. A touching, sad and well written story. But if this is an attempt to justify polygamy, then it is not correct. There are multiple ways to help the widowed women. Second marriage and destroying you own home is not one of them.
    Islam permits polygamy — under very limited circumstances. If you have women in your possession such as orphans (True for older and tribal societies) or if you are overcome by sexual passions and your one wife is not that much into it, then instead of committing adultery, the second marriage is an option. It should also be remembered that the option of second marriage does not come without restrictions. Permission of the first wife is important. And if the second marriage happens then equal and fair treatment is also an important requirement.
    But this is the first time that I am hearing this excuse. Polygamy to help out widowed women!! I question the veracity of this story. It seems like made up.

    • Permission of first wife is not important. Some scholars say it is not required. It is actually either ‘too much to ask’ or difficult for her to even know what the future will bring. She would say ‘I did not know how what I was agreeing to’. First time to hear this excuse? To look after widows is a duty not an excuse. I think this story is too accurate to be made up. Sounds real to me.

  3. Of course, with the male domination of the religious scene, people have misused the limited permission of polygamy in Islam.
    The permission of second wife is important, so much so that some scholars of fiqh allow the first wife the ability to put it in the nikah contract that the husband will not have multiple wives.
    Jamaat also requires the permission of the first wife.
    According to the Islamic principal, well being of the close family comes before the others. This sorry excuse of helping widowed women by marrying them is just that. The permission of polygamy in Islam is conditional and limited. It should not be misused.
    In the present day, there is hardly any justification for polygamy and it should not be accepted.

    • Lutf: you say ‘in the present day polygamy should not be accepted’. Dream on. In one question-and-answer session Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV, no doubt tired of always the same question about polygamy, just replied to the European questioner: “Well, it seems to me that polygamy is being practiced in Europe as much as anywhere else”. (something like that) The questioner had to agree. Consequently what we as Muslims have to stress is the equal treatment of all wives. In the West the ‘first wife’ has all the rights and the ‘subsequent de-facto wives’ have none. Islamic teachings are of course superior here too.

  4. I had the strange experience of seeing the Indian/Pakistani ladies and the Arab ladies were fighting at a sea sort. The Pakistani women were accusing the Arab ladies of neglecting their husbands and not caring for them. The Arab ladies were accusing the Pakistani ladies of being too possessive and not letting their husbands enjoy freely.
    The Arab ladies stand was that they allow their husbands to have another wife in another house. But they do not like that he had any secret resort. They said, they help and serve the husband as much as they can, and let another another lady serve at other times so that their own burden is reduced.
    The Pakistani/ Indian ladies were accusing the Arabs that they do not care for their husbands.
    The net result or best way is: Let there be polygamy as permitted in the Quran. But Quran also advises to have just one wife. And to be just among more than one wife even though it is very difficult to be just.
    It is the permission to the man according to the circumstances. If he will misuse his privilege , he will suffer in the end. The first wife also has the permission to seek Khula’a that is resign, walk away and not to remain in the house with her husband.
    Whatever Lutf has written in last post, the last para: “In the present day, there is hardly any justification for polygamy and it should not be accepted.” was not good.

  5. In Isalam polygamy is permitted but not obligatory. Islam restricted the number to four women at one time.Khalifa ‘s answer to one person does not mean for everyone. If the first wife is severely mentally or physically ill,permission is not required. If the first wife is not willing, she can ask for separation.Caring for the widow and orphan is the responsibility of government and community.
    Education is obligatory for women from cradle to grave.To get a skill,with the intention to get a job is not compulsory.
    We are required to pray O,Allah don’t burden us beyond our capacity. O God don’t make us answerable if we forget or commit excesses. Forgive us,have mercy on us.This prayer is in chapter albaqrah in the Holy Quran. May Allah accept our prayers amen.

  6. Quran has provided solutions to social problems. Polygamy is a solution for some exceptional circumstances. Unless those circumstances are present no one should either practice, encourage or accept polygamy. All those men who are polygamous should think about their daughters. How would they feel if she was in a polygamous relationship.
    Quranic permissions are for specific reasons. They should not be practiced without reason. So Jihad is wajib but only under certain circumstances, and with many regulations. But Muslims forgot that and Jihad became a curse for the Muslim nation. Similarly polygamy is a permission for certain circumstances. With time those circumstances are becoming less and less common. Therefore to talk about polygamy with such reverence and refuse to accept any limitation on it is simply wrong.

    • Exceptional circumstances are subject to interpretation. My own personal interpretation is that with so many unmarried ladies these days we do have exceptional circumstances. Look around in your family: Do you not have unmarried ladies?

  7. @Rafiq A Tschannen

    You appear to think there’s something wrong with being an unmarried lady – There isn’t. And in any event, there’s no global shortage of men, certainly not so much that some of them need to marry two women.
    I know more unmarried men than unmarried women, does that mean a woman can marry two men?

    • AL: I am referring to the ladies who would wish to marry but are not ‘chosen’. I feel that among the unmarried men there are more that just do not wish to marry while among the unmarried women there are many who would prefer to be married. – Anyway, enough said about all that: for you your opinion and for me my opinion.

  8. @Rafiq A Tschannen
    This is the exact thinking that is giving Islam a bad name these days. When women are educated and not dependent on men or when they have other options, they would rather stay unmarried and single than to marry a lesser man at all, much less live in a polygamous relationship. (This is the result of a survey of Muslim women in the USA)
    We have to realize the world has changed and we are not living in an uneducated, backward and tribal society. Whereas Islam has solutions for all times and circumstances, to misuse those permissions and insist upon them is the problem.
    Let us try to improve the condition of the women and let us provide safety nets for those who are in need so they are not on the mercy of men who take advantage of their difficult circumstances. Let us allow women to get an education and let them acquire skills which would make them capable of earning a living, and let us not confine them to their homes so they can take their rightful place in the society.
    Question: So the solution for a dependent women is to accept a polygamous relationship. What is the solution for a man in similar circumstances?

  9. @Rafiq:

    “I feel that among the unmarried men there are more that just do not wish to marry while among the unmarried women there are many who would prefer to be married.” – In reality, there are all kinds of people – some women that don’t want to marry, some men that do, and vice versa. I’d be interested in the answer to Luft’s question: “So the solution for a dependent women is to accept a polygamous relationship. What is the solution for a man in similar circumstances?”

  10. I totally agree with Al and Lutf on the matter and also like to add that most Muslim men just abuse this limited provision in the religion. It is a well known fact that they simply use it rather to fulfil their sexual desires as they only seek to marry younger and preferably virgin girls which of course causes a lot of friction in the family and wreck homes! I don’t think God would permit anything like this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.