How Does Polygamy Work Sexually in Islam? The Basics You Must Know

In other religions, polygamy may mean that a man or a woman can have multiple wives/husbands at a time. But in Islam, polygamy is only permitted for men. A man can have 4 wives at a time. 

But a man can’t have intercourse with multiple wives together. He also can’t have intercourse with one wife in the presence of another one. This is precisely ruled in Islam. 

How Does Polygamy Work? The Polygamy Sexuality in Islam

Before explaining sexuality in polygamous relationships, you should be assured that Allah Subhanahu Ta’ala permitted men to have more than one wife at a time. 

How Does Polygamy Work Sexually in Islam?
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Allah says in the Qur’an that-

And if you fear that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, then marry among the (free) women whom you like: Two, three, or four. And if you fear that you will not be able to do justice, then (marry) one or (use as a wife) a slave (purchased or captive) of yours. This is the closest you get to not being biased.” [Surah An-Nisa, 4:3]

Mufti Ebrahim Desai interpreted this Ayah that a Mulsim male can have up to four wives at a time since Allah Subhanahu Ta’ala permitted this. But, you have to ensure equality and equity among them. 

He also suggested that, before marrying, you should discuss this matter with your first wife (and others if present) so that you can save yourself from negative consequences. However, Islam doesn’t make it mandatory that you must get permission from your wife to remarry. 

However, many Muslims may not know how polygamous sexuality works. Many people fantasize about having sex with multiple wives. But the purpose of having multiple wives in Islam is not all about sex

So, many Muslims ask whether a man can have sex with multiple wives simultaneously. Or can you have sex with one of your wives in the presence of other ones? 

No, you can’t. Here are the reasons why a man can’t have intercourse with multiple wives together. 

Reasons Why a Male Can’t Have Sex With Multiple Wives Together

Reasons Why a Male Can’t Have Sex With Multiple Wives Together

A woman can’t see another woman naked. 

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa-Sallam) said, “A man should not look at a man’s body in nakedness, and a woman should not look at a woman’s body in nakedness.” [Muslim, 338]

So, when a woman can’t even look at another woman’s naked body, then having intercourse with them together can not be permissible anymore. 

Hasan Basri Rah. said- The Sahaba and the senior Tabi’ees hated ‘Wajas.’ Wajas means hearing the sound of the couple while having intercourse. And by hating, the predecessors used to take aim, to consider it haram.’ [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 4/388]

Ibn Qudama Rah. said, ‘If the husband has intercourse with one in front of the other with the consent of both wives, then it is impermissible. Because it contains inferiority, stupidity, and filth. So it will not become permissible because of their consent.’ [Al Mughni 8/137]

Do Sister Wives Ever Sleep Together?

You may sleep with multiple wives in the same room. Just sleep, not doing any sexual activities. Still, you have to follow 3 things. 

  1. All wives must agree to this. Ibn Qudama Rah. said, ‘It is not permissible for a man to live together with two wives without their consent. Because there is enmity and jealousy between them, both may be harmed.’ [Al Mughni 7/300]
  2. (2,3)The other two are keeping your wives’ bodies veiled in front of each other and not having any sexual intercourse, as we discussed before. 

Aside from having sex together with multiple wives at a time being haram, there is the issue of shame.

A Mumin can’t be shameless. Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A.) narrated- that The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon Him) said there are more than 60 branches of faith, among which shame is an (important) branch of faith. – [Bukhari, Kitabul Iman 2/3; Muslim 1/12, Hadith 35]

Therefore, it is a requirement of modesty and shame not to sleep with two wives in the same room.

So, if you are not able to keep your wives in different places and can’t afford equity for all of them, you should not have more than one wife. 

As Islamic scholars interpreted from the Qur’an(Nisa, 3), marrying more than one wife is permissible. But, it is not mandatory for Muslim men. So, if you want to marry more than one woman, you should ensure the following thing for each of your wives. 

  • Ensure Insaf (Equity)

When Allah gives the permission of at most 4 wives at a time, he also reminds the following in the same verse of the Qur’an-

“…And if you fear that you will not be able to do justice, then (marry) one….” [Surah Nisa, 4:3]

From the said verse, it is understood that the condition for polygamy is equity/justice. If a person fears that if he marries more than one wife, he will not be able to maintain justice between wives, then it is forbidden for him to marry more than one. Here, Insaf(Justice) means all the material things within the husband’s ability and means, including food, clothing, and lodging.

But there is no duty of justice in love. It will not be asked of him. Because it is not possible for him to do it. And this is the meaning of Allah’s words: 

“And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah – then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.” [An Nisa, 4:129]

Are Polyamorous Relationships Healthy?

Polyamorous relationships can be healthy and fulfilling, just like monogamous relationships. However, there are some key things to consider:

Are Polyamorous Relationships Healthy?
  • Communication and honesty are essential: Polyamory requires clear communication and agreements among all partners about expectations, boundaries, and involvement.
  • More complex than monogamy: Due to the multiple partners involved, you may face more complexity while maintaining polyamorous relationships. Jealousy and insecurity can be challenges, but healthy communication and relationship skills can help you to manage these.
  • Not for everyone: Some people are not comfortable with sharing their partner’s romantic or emotional attention. Polyamory isn’t inherently better or worse than monogamy; it’s about what works for the individuals involved. 

These are our very own opinions based on several relevant things. But as a human being and a Muslim, you should make your own decision based on the situation you are in. 

Final Thoughts

Polygamy in Islam is permissible through halal marriage with some precise conditions. As a Muslim man, you can have 4 wives at a time, and you must ensure equity among your wives. 

However, in terms of sexuality, you must avoid having sex with multiple wives together as this is haram according to the Qur’an and Hadith as interpreted by scholars. 

Also, ensuring shame is a crucial quality of a Mumin. You should not cross your limit of shame, which is the part of your Iman (Faith).

All praises be to Allah, and Allah knows the best. 

Talha Ubaidullah
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