Options for marrying a second wife.

Q. Please clarify with regard my options – what if the marrying of another woman is along the lines that she is a single, almost middle age woman, who does not require my assistance in any other way than she shares a physical lonely existence like myself and is happy with a part time companion, am I still obligated to provide equally for her? Can the marriage take place without my first wife’s knowledge or approval, but with the second wife understanding of such, and finally if the answers to the above is no… what else can I do to deal with my physical needs and loneliness as I do not want to divorce my first wife as there is a young child to consider and my first wife has made it clear that she no longer feels the need for a physical relationship, and is happy to continue along the existing lines (of going about our daily lives to provide for the child’s needs and wants without providing for each other’s desires), as we both considered divorce last year but decided it would affect the child too much, and is so frowned upon.

A. If you marry another woman, then she will be regarded as your second wife and hence, will deserve to be treated in an equal manner like that of your first wife. This is a ‘haqq’ (right) that the second wife will have upon you. However, it is permissible for her to forego this right and be satisfied with that which is less. In other words, she can give up her right upon you to spend an equal time with her, by allowing you to spend whatever time you desire, and she can also absolve you from looking after her daily needs. All these however, must come willingly from her, and must not be forced upon her.

With respect to the second marriage without the first wife’s knowledge and approval this is also permissible since the shariah did not make this a condition for the validity of a second marriage. However, you will have to face the possible consequences if/when she (the first wife) finds out about it. Consequences here, do not refer to sins or the punishment of Allah, it simple refers to the conduct, arguments that may come about if/when the first wife finds out about your second marriage.

Based on what you have mentioned, your first wife is totally wrong in Islam for withholding herself from you (as it connects to physical relationship).

The hadith clearly states that such a woman is a sinner. Her statement of ‘not feeling the need for a physical relationship’ is not justifiable in Islam and her attitude in this regard is unbecoming of a Muslim wife. It is forbidden for a woman to refuse her husband’s sexual advances whenever he desires sexual relations, she must not refuse him, unless she has a valid Islamic excuse. A number of authentic Ahadith establish this ruling. Some of these are: –

1) Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘When a man calls his wife to bed (i.e. to have sexual relations) and she then refuses to come, the angels curse her until the morning’. Another narration of the same hadith has the following words, ‘if a woman spends the night away from the bed of her husband (by not responding to his sexual needs), the angels curse her until she returns’. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Hibban, Ahmad)

2) The Prophet (SAS) is reported to have said, ‘By the one who has my soul in His Hand, no man invites his wife to bed, and she then refuses him except that the One in the heavens is angry with her until he (the Husband) is pleased with her’. (Muslim)

The above traditions show that when a woman refuses the sexual advances of her husband without a valid excuse, she is committing a major sin, which brings about the curses of the angels. Moreover, it brings about the anger of Allah upon her, for Allah is angry with a woman when her husband is angry with her (with just cause). The Prophet (SAS) is reported to have said, ‘By the one who has the soul of Muhammad in His Hand, a woman does not fulfill the right of her Lord until she fulfills the right of her husband’. (Ahamad, Ibn Majah)

By refusing to fulfill the desires of her husband, a wife is depriving him from his right. He might become angry, searching for the most insignificant of matters to start a fight with her. And when a woman makes her husband angry by doing something wrong, her prayer is not accepted, Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAS) said, ’As for three people, their Salaah (prayer) does not rise above their heads even to the span of a hand. (They are) a man who leads a people (by ruling over them or by leading them in prayer), yet they dislike him (for something wrong he did or for his evil character); a woman whose husband spends the night angry with her (for something wrong she did); and two brothers who are fighting with one another’. ( Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban).

Your wife therefore, must rethink her conduct and fulfill your rights as her husband. The reason which she has given (as you have mentioned) is not acceptable in the shariah. Refusal to fulfill the sexual desires of the husband is only valid when there are sound Islamic excuses for doing so. This includes when a woman is in the state of Ihram (for Hajj or Umrah). She can refuse him when she is sick, and she will also refuse to engage in sexual relations when she is menstruation or experiencing post-natal bleeding.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan