Q. Before we got married my husband made it clear that he is prone to polygamy. I understand this is his right from Allah, however I would like to know what my rights are concerning the situation. Right now we have a son who is a year and a half and we are expecting another baby insha Allah in December. At the moment, we are struggling with at least $10,000 in debt and there are some basic needs that we sometimes have to do without because we cannot afford it. I understand that everyone’s sustenance is written and I never complain about our situation but I was wondering if it is allowed to take multiple wives when you can barely afford one. Also if it is possible, could you please tell me by what means is he allowed to seek this wife… conversations, meetings, etc?
A. I do not think that it is a matter of being prone to polygamy, it is simply a desire that your husband has. It is also not proper to say that it is his right from Allah. This term can be quite misleading. Instead, it will be proper to say that ‘it is an allowance’ which Allah Has given to a person, and can only be adopted when he is able to fulfill all the conditions that go with it. If one is not able to fulfill these conditions, then it will be haram (unlawful) for him to take another wife.
If your husband wishes to take another wife, then it will be compulsory upon him to treat his both wives equally in matters of food, residence, clothing and even sexual relations as much as possible. If he cannot do this, then he must not marry a second wife. In this regard, the Holy Quran states, ‘if you fear that you will not be able to be justice, then marry only one’.(4:3).
Based on what you have described, it shows that your husband is not able to (probably) fulfill the rights of one wife properly, which means that taking another wife should not even come to his heart. Taking another wife means that he will have to find a place for her to live in, which is similar to the one the first wife is living in. He must also provide the similar type of food and clothing for the second wife, and must be able to be equal and fair with respect to other matters.
With respect to the means through which he can seek a second wife, then it will be in the same manner which the Shariah has outlined. This is the manner of sending a proposal to the woman which he wants to marry. Courting/liming and the customary meeting/conversations which take place between young boys and girls are totally haram.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan