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First wife’s consent for second marriage and can the first wife ask ker husband to divorce the second wife

First wife’s consent for second marriage and can the first wife ask ker husband to divorce the second wife


In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

The issue that one man could have more than one wife was something that was considered permissible by all religions of the world even before the advent of Islam.  This custom prevailed in Arabia, India, Iran, Egypt, and Babylon and among people elsewhere.

During the early period of Islam this custom continued without being limited.  As a result men initially took too many wives to satisfy their greed.  Later, they could not do justice to all of them and their wives lived like prisoners.  It was the Holy Quran that stopped this great injustice prevailing in the human society at large.  The Holy Quran restricted the plurality of wives by declaring that keeping more than four in marriage is unlawful.  Furthermore, to treat any of them unfairly will also be unlawful.  (Maariful Quran p.301 & p.302 v.2)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in the Holy Quran has said:

‘Then marry the women you like, in two’s, in three’s and in four’s.  But if you fear that you will not maintain equality, then (keep to) one women, or a bond woman you own.  It will be closer to your not doing injustice.’   (Surah Nisaa v.3)

Saaiduna Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said “A man who has two wives and he does not deal justly with them will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement with half his body paralysed.”   (Sunan Tirmizi)

With regards to your question, it is not necessary for the husband to seek permission from the first wife for his second marriage to be considered valid and correct. (Raddul Muhtar p.138 v.4)

The husband should have have consented his first wife before he decided to marry this second woman in order not to hurt her feelings. She is naturally going to suffer from jealousy against the woman who has come into a marital relationship with her husband.

Even the wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) suffered in this way.

Once, one of the Prophet’s wives sent him a platter of food while he was at Saaidah Aishah Radiallahu Anha’s house. Saaidah Aishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) knocked the platter out of the hand of the servant who brought it, causing the platter to break in half. The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam was calm and exercised wisdom in how he handled the situation. He put the two halves back together and collected the food back into it, then said: “Your mother (referring to Saaidah Aishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)) is feeling jealous.” He then sent one of Saaidah Aishah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)’s platters along with the servant to take to the other wife as a replacement. (Sahih Bukhari)

The marriage with the second wife will be considered valid even though, the husband should have consulted his first wife. However, it is not permissible for the first wife to demand her husband to divorce his second wife.

It was narrated by Saaiduna Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Prophet Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “It is not permissible for a woman to demand her sister’s divorce so that she may take her place and get married; she cannot have more than what is decreed for her.” (Sahih Bukhaari & Sahih Muslim)

The conclusion to your question is that the second marriage you performed is correct in light of the Quran and Sunnah. Furthermore, your first wife does not have a right of divorce if the husband did not divorce the second wife, rather she does not have a right at all to ask for the second wife to be divorced.

Below, I have mentioned some rules the husband should adhere to when it comes to doing justice between the two wives.

  1. It is wajib to be just and equitable to each wife in giving maintenance, allowance and in being friendly with them but not in sleeping together.
  2. If he treats them equally in sleeping together, kissing etc. then it is mustahabb though not wajib.
  3. As for the gifts which are not necessary, it is wajib to dispense justice in the view of Imam Abu Hanifah raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him)
  4. When the man proceeds for a journey, he may take any of his wives along.  But it is better if he draws a lottery to choose one.
  5. It is essential to give a separate home to each wife.  One is not allowed to compel both to stay in the same house.  However, if both are willing then it is allowed to keep them together for as long as they are willing.
  6. It is not proper that while he begins one wife’s turn after Maghrib, he begins another’s after Isha. 
  7. Similarly, it is not proper to stay at both places for some time during one night.
  8. Equality is not wajib for visits during the day.  Rather, short visits are enough.
  9. Or, if he goes to one wife for some purpose then too it is proper.
  10. It is not proper to have sexual intercourse with a wife during the day if it not her turn that night.
  11. It is the husband’s prerogative to determine the length of the time but it should not be prolonged to such an extent that the other has to endure the wait, for instance a year each.  
  12. If a husband stays at one home during his illness then on recovery he must stay as many days at the others home. 
  13. Also, if a wife is seriously ill then there is no harm in staying at her home to attend to her. However, these days too should be redeemed.
  14. One wife may give her turn to another.  She can take it back when she likes.  


Pattern for the husband

  1. He should not disclose secret of one wife to another.
  2. He should lodge them separately each having her meal at her own place. 
  3. He should not complain to one wife about another.
  4. He should not praise one before another.
  5. In short, neither should be mentioned before another nor listen to one speak about the other.
  6. He should politely decline to tell a wife about another if she asks him about something.
  7. He should not let any of them doubt that he gives more to one than to the other.  Rather, he should declare it clearly.
  8. He should not try to please any of themb y claiming to love her more than the other.
  9. He should not look for an opportunity to say that the other wife praised her

Pattern for the first wife

  1. She should not be jealous of the new wife.
  2. She should not taunt her.
  3. She should bring herself to treat her with kind manners so that even if she has not love, she does not harbour hatred either.
  4. She should not display such informality with her husband in the presence of the second wife as he might not like it lest the new wife also becomes rude with him.
  5. She should not mention defects of the new wife to her husband, for no one likes his beloved to be criticized, particularly by her competitor, a co-wife. 
  6. She should treat the new wife in such a way that she (the new wife) does not ever argue with her.
  7. She should obey and serve her husband more than ever before so that she does not lose esteem in his eyes.
  8. If her husband falls short of giving her rights to her and she can do without them then she should not speak of them.  But if she finds it difficult to do without them then she should tell him politely when he is in a happy mood.
  9. She should deal with the relatives of the new wife cheerfully so that she respects her.
  10. She should surrender her turn to the new wife once in a while so that her husband might esteem her.

Pattern for the new wife

  1. She should deal with the first wife in a way one deals with one elder.
  2. She should not take much pride in her husband or think that she is his dearest.  The first wife has an established relationship with him and the emotions for the new wife cannot displace them.
  3. If her husband gives her a separate home, she must pay occasional visits to the first wife and invite her sometimes.
  4. She should impress upon her husband not to neglect the first.
  5. If the first wife is strict or taunts her, she should excuse her and not complain to her husband.
  6. She should serve the relatives of the first wife.
  7. She should keep excellent relations with the children of the first wife to the extent that the first wife has a soft corner for her.
  8. She should seek the advice of the first wife in important matters for she has good experience and this will bring them closer to one another.

(Extracted from The Islamic Marriage – Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi p.214- p.218)

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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