“Ask for ‘permission’ before taking a second wife? That is out of the question!”

Published: March 12, 2014

The head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has claimed that it’s against the tenets of Islam for a man to seek permission from his wife before taking another one. PHOTO: AFP

Suddenly the head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has claimed that it’s against the tenets of Islam for a man to seek permission from his wife before taking another one. The question that arises is why now, after more than 53 years?

When the law was enacted, Islamic scholars like Maududi, Noorani and Mufti Mahmud were active politicians. None of them objected. Therefore, it was assumed that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 was in accordance with the teachings of Islam. So, what made the current head honcho of CII claim that there is no need to ask your wife if you want to take another one?

One can’t help but think that he has done this to divert the attention of people from the activities of those who think it’s perfectly legitimate to cut off the heads of soldiers to play football with or those who want to spend their lives bombing girls’ schools.

I know that ever since Ayub Khan made the law making it necessary for a man to take permission from his wife before taking another one, fundamentalists have been bitter.

“It’s against a he-man’s nature to take permission from his wife for doing anything, let alone marrying another woman,” says one.

“I rarely talk to my wife, unless it’s absolutely necessary,” says another.

“Same here. The only time I say anything to my wife is when dinner is served late,” adds another.

I asked a man who took a second wife why he felt the need to do so. He replied,

“After seven daughters my wife stopped producing and I desperately wanted a son, so I married again.”

I asked him if he had sought his wife’s permission to which he replied,

“That’s out of the question! I just told her I was taking another wife.”

Concerned, I persisted and asked him if she would have permitted him to marry a second time if he had asked her, to which he firmly replied,

“If she had objected, I’d have immediately divorced her and she knew it.”

This man took a third wife when his second wife became infertile after giving birth to five girls. Ten years have passed and the third wife is the mother of four but still no son for him.

Apart from the one who has three wives, I’ve known very few polygamous men. One was a relative who took a second wife because his first one was barren. Another one told his sons about a secret wife when doctors told him he didn’t have long to live. And then, there was one who sent his wife and children for a month-long holiday to Murree and married a film actress. His brother also had a secret wife who emerged after his death.

When you get down to it, although Islam permits polygamy there are strict conditions attached. A man has to treat all his wives equally – something physically impossible to do. What this means is, if the first wife gives him a sound thrashing, he has to go to his other wives and get beaten by them one by one!

Jokes apart, only a fool would want to have more than one wife nowadays with the cost of living so high that most people barely earn enough to keep body and soul together. Another thing to consider: there are 106 males for every 100 females in Pakistan and hence, many Pakistani males will remain single unless of course, they get wives from one of our neighbouring countries.

If an increasing number of Pakistani males decide to take second or third wives, there will be a major crisis in the country… as if there weren’t enough issues as it is!

But one thing is for sure – if a man wants to take a second wife for whatever reason (including the fact that his wife now weighs so much she reminds him of an elephant in the zoo), he will do so and knowing how contemptuously the Muslim Family Law is treated, nothing will happen to him unless his first wife’s brothers throw him into the sea. Which is what he deserves, to say the least.

And if all this wasn’t enough, these chaps in the CII have also decreed that it is ‘un-Islamic’ to fix the minimum age for marriage at 18 (for boys) and 16 (for girls). It looks like they want us to go back to the Stone Ages. Think about it. If we are asked to arrange marriages of our five-year-old children, what difference would there be between us and those who lived in pre-Islamic days?

Don’t they know that the consent of both parties – which includes the boy and girl and not just their parents – to a marriage is essential in Islam? How can young children decide whom they want to marry and whom they don’t?

It seems like the time has come for us to start praying that they don’t ask us to strangle female babies at birth.

After all, you can expect anything from these guys.

Do you think a man should seek permission from his wife before taking a second wife?

     View Results

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Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • spock jr

    India shining is Media gimmick?lol, All big global companies have huge offices in India. Pakistan has none.big mnc companies want to invest in india. Mnc’s are not interested in Pakistan.Even obama has said in interviews that china and india students are giving americans great competition. Spelling bees are won by indians. India is a IT hub.The world acknowledges India as an emerging force.so It’s not indian gimmick. Whether or not you acknowledge india’s power and growth, is irrelevant.No one expects Pakistan to be secular, you are incapable of that but there are no human rights in Pak. Hindus, Christians, Amedis, shias are killed or converted. Pakistan targets religious minorities.So it is a human rights issue.OFcourse, Pakistan has law and order problem too. NO one denies rights to people in India because of caste. Keep dreaming.We have lots and loads of successful people from minority communities and low castes so your sentences are baseless. Girls in india roam around wearing western clothes and it’s fine. Girls in Pakistan cannot even safely walk on roads of karachi.Jeans are considered immoral. lol. Women are much better off In india.Rapes are very common in pak too.Indian economy is stronger than pak. everyone knows that. You are living in fantasy land. lol.Your comments are funny.lolRecommend

  • spock jr

    Can you name which law in India suppresses minorities or lower castes? NO law in India does that.
    Law in India protects all people.
    But Pakistan has blasphemy law which is used against minorities. Ahmedi are declared non muslims. Pakistani law suppresses people. We do not have such laws in India.Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    Can you please usher me with lots of knowledge you have on why modi cant go to USA if he was not really involved and when why he asked for Pardon recentlyRecommend

  • spock jr

    Uk is not boycotting modi now.
    Can you tell me why pakistanis and muslims have trouble at immigration at airports in USA?why does usa have a problem with all of you.why does islamophobia exist in the world? But indians dont face such problems in usa. Recommend

  • spock jr

    Modi has NEVER APOLOGISED. Do some research. Why will he apologise. He was not responsible for riots.Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    I am a frequent traveler to Canda and USA and I have never faced issues at the immigration counter. U read tribune so much my friend. Yes I heard issues on the immigration but thats policy of asking extra question is not specific to Pakistan. Why shahrukh Khan was detail at NYC airport for more than 24 Hrs although he was from India ??Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    What is your problem if law declared Ahmedies non muslim. it doesnt declare them as non humen species. They are still citizen of Pakistan and have major positions in the government. Being an Islamic state there is no issue in having a law that declares blasphemy against Holy prophets a serious crime. Questioning holo cast in Germany is a crime too isnt it? there are issues with the implementation and how some times it was being abused but there is no problem with the law and no body is apologetic about that.Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    UK is not boycotting, At least you accept that they have boycotted before. Why my friend :) ?Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    woooooooooo… the Rapistan is now a safe heaven for girls… lolz you know what indians are really good in doing comedy. We are 10 times smaller than India in size but since last 66 years we have been competing you like no other country can. If india is that good then why 40% of indian population is living below the poverty line.I think the whole world have watched the slum dog millionaire portraying the reality of India. You dont need to market india as your movie are doing that much better.Get well soon!!Recommend

  • spock jr

    Why are muslims still discriminated against? Why my friend? Why does islamophobia exist? Why are pakistanis ill treated in the west.

    Modi is innocent.There have been zero riots in gujarat since then with modi as cm.and gujarat riots in 2002 were started by muslims.

    Why are pakistanis and muslims ill treated in west. Answer that.
    WHY does usa have an issue with all muslims.esp at immigration.


  • Ali S

    Besides, the male is responsible for the gender of the child, not the female. So if he really feels producing 15 girls is unfortunate, he should cut off his member instead of going on an impregnation spree. If only this was taught in our science textbooks.Recommend

  • cosmo

    Based on the poll at the end of the article it is revealed that 49% Pakistanis think it is not necessary to seek permission before marrying a second time. Shame on Pakistan and Pakistanis for promoting polygamy and more than that treating wife/women nothing more than a piece of furniture !!

    I wonder, how do you guys wake up in the morning cultivating such stone age practices ??Recommend

  • Sandeep

    This religion never fails to amaze me – the more people follow this religion the more they will start behaving and looking like arabs who lived in desert 1400 years ago. Grow up, read some scientific books and think secular and allow free thoughts to grow in society. The book which was written 1400 years ago is no longer relevant in today’s society. Kick the religion and accept logic. Seriously man, you guys don’t want to question things in quran but are discussing technicalities .. it does not matter how you need to treat each wife equally ..it is just wrong to have multiple wives…. no matter whether it was done back in the day or not .. we are living in 2014 if you believe in any religion do it in your home ..once you step out you should live like a human being who follows laws made for everyone and not religious laws.. but I am sure some of you still believe all the things mentioned and will never question those things logically but will want to follow blindly…Recommend

  • spock jr

    You travel to canada? And yet you get the spelling all wrong. Lol.there are plenty of news reports of muslims and pakistanis being targeted in the west. Why are you targeted, pls tell. Shah rukh is targeted because he is muslims and actions of pakistanis etc create problems for nice indian muslims too.
    40% of india is not in poverty.pakistani economy is weak thats why you need to get financial.aid from USA. India doesnt need aid from usa. So that proves that india is better off.
    What competition is pak giving india? Can you quote facts. Pak cant match india in engineering, medicine , IT etc. Pakistani heart patients come to india for treatment. Google it. If pak is better than india, why do pakistanis come here for treatment ?
    pakistan has a very high rape rate too. And atleast in india rapists are convicted. In pakistan rapists are not convicted because 4 witnesses are needed. Funny stuff.
    Lastly, I cant believe you are justifying the blasphemy law. Bravo. A person with ethics will know targetting minorities is WRONG. why are ahmedis killed , why are their graves vandalized? How can you justify such things. My god.
    And you are also.using holocaust as an example. Is that the role model for pakistan? The holocaust. How will pakistan move forward?Recommend

  • Saad Riaz

    Go search Wikipedia my friend.. by 2012, indian population living under the extremely poor poverty line is 30.8%. By standards ,an income less than 1.25 dollars per day is considered extremely poor and thats what your stats are as per the world bank (67.8% have an income less than 2 USD per day). Pakistanies enjoys much better living standard than india as per the world bank report and i hope you remember that we are much happy people as compared to Endia http://tribune.com.pk/story/446303/pakistan-among-top-20-happiest-countries-beating-india-us-report/.

    It doesnt surprise me that you actually think that travelling to Canada or USA will make a person not to make a typo. I was expecting this level of intelligence from you bhai Saaab:P. You need to do some research on the blasphemy law , it says insulting/humiliating a holy prophet is a crime in Pakistan and we support that. The only issue we have is how it has been misused.
    If we are not competent enough than why you guys are so obsessed with Pakistan that you have nothing else to do but to troll on Pakistani Blog sites. Why your media is so obsessed with Pakistani artists that they get instant success when they go to india. I know now you will start with why Pakistanis watch bollywood movies then so let me answer that to you my friend ….. its because we love watching cartoons and in the last a token of love from a very proud pakistani http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/pakistan-is-a-chick-magnet_10013218.htmlRecommend

  • spock jr

    I expected you to rely on sites like wikipedia. Haha. Intelligence is rare, thanks for proving it … why does india not need aid from US But pak does huh? Pak is poorer than india. Everyone knows that.looks like you dont even believe in freedom of speech. Why is ur faith so weak that you are affected by what people say about ur prophet.its their opinion. Let them have it. Mental growth is important for all humans.. but looks like its not happening in certain countries lol.. blasphemy laws are archaic and regressive. Time to move out of dark ages my dear.or pak will never progress.let go of regressive thospock ughts. Pak artists like pak patients come to india because their country of pakistan has nothing to give them. They come here to earn money. Because pak doesnt pay them enough. And we are gracious enough to welcome pakistanis even though pak was responsible for mumbai attack. Keep ur artists in pak only. But they come to india and refuse to go back to pak. Eg adnan sami.
    I dont believe ur stories about canada. Its untrue.lol Recommend

  • Danish

    Is there anything in the Quran or Hadith that says that a man must get permission from his first wife to get a second one?Recommend

  • Danish

    The odds of having 16 girls without having a boy are over 65,500 to 1!Recommend

  • reluctant khan

    What does common sense say to you? Should he ask his first wife or not?
    Think about your sister or daughter would you approve this behavior if their husbands remarried without asking their consent.Recommend

  • abubakar

    What common sense says is irrelevant, the legality of polygamy allows the loopholes for those who want to get a second wife, they would care less about common sense if they wanted to bring a second wife, because they can without needing permission. Secondly I never said in my opinion that polygamy is right or wrong, I’m just stating what islam allows and what islamic scholars have said(agreed on).Recommend

  • MA

    You seem to be on the roll on
    this blog so thought to chuck a few questions at you

    So where is it
    permissible in Quran that it is against a man’s dignity to seek his wife’s
    permission for a second marriage?

    Where in Quran does Allah say
    that a man should only speak to his wife when it is necessary?

    Where is Quran does Allah say
    that a man should only speak to his wife if the dinner is served late?

    Where in Quran does Allah say
    that a man can treat his wife unequally in order to perform polygamy?

    My findings:

    Now, what Allah does say in
    Quran that a husband and wife are each other’s counterpart so they might find
    comfort and response in each other. A
    husband and wife should seek love and compassion between them. A wife has an equal
    right to be treated fairly and satisfied physically and sexually as does a man.
    She is not there to borne child every FEW months. This is what a man and a
    woman must seek to maintain in their lives in order to fulfil Allah’s destiny
    for his creation. This is why Quran says that They( husband and wife) are
    clothing/covering (libaas) for each other.

    “Live together with them correctly and courteously.
    If you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something in which Allah
    has placed a lot of good.”

    In fact, Allah tells us that if men dislike something in
    their wives then they should bear with it as Allah may have placed allot of
    good in it

    Hence just
    because the husband has more rights and authority in the marriage relationship,
    it does not make him more than his wife. It is merely an arrangement for
    the partnership decreed by Allah.Recommend

  • think about it

    Mr. Abubakr, these people do not have the status of having their decrees blindly accepted. For me, a true Muslim should only blindly accept the teachings of the Quran and hadith. Anything else, even if it is indirectly derived from these sources, one must first understand and see how they are linked to the teachings of the Quran and hadith. Now, of course, not everyone is in a position to go into the depth of Quranic teachings. This where the people currently forming the CII and their likes enter, and this is why their only job is to advise. However, let us look at some of the astounding announcements they have made. As an example, they have declared the use of DNA evidence to capture rapists unIslamic. What expansion have they given of this? What reasoning, what proof? What Islamic teaching did they use to derive this idiotic statement? And yes, I mean idiotic, because if DNA is acceptable in other criminal cases like murder then it is acceptable as evidence in ask criminal cases, rape included. unless of course the CII announces rape is not a crime in Islam, which it very much is. The CII should be leading the fight against non humanitarian actions like rape, actions that violate freedom, choice and consent. They should be showing the nation and the world how Islam is not a backward religion, how it is instead the protector of people’s rights. And yet, everything the CII says seems perfectly in line with the opinions the Taliban seem to hold. I am sorry sir, but please do not follow the CII blindly. Please do not follow them at all. That would be stupidity in the extreme.Recommend

  • think about it

    If a man develops feelings for another woman? Sort of negates the idea you marriage, doesn’t it? and if according to you It doesn’tdoesn’t, well then you would also be okay with woman developing feelings for other men and marrying them, this is what your logic supports.

  • think about it

    Wonderful attitude. Fantastic. The Koran and sunnah allow it, who cares about anything after that. there ate certain conditions that have to be met? what Is your personal concern? the ball is in Allah’s court, there is no point for us to make sure our people are treated properly and behave in a civilized way. Besides, there only women. Chill out.
    As much as I applaud you for your constructive and positive attitude sir, I would just like to enquire what your personal reaction would be if you married your daughter to a man and with the next year this man mashed again thrice without informing you or your daughter. Would you soot back, have a drink, and still feel that you ‘needn’t worry’?Recommend

  • abubakar

    Firstly where does it say that in quran or hadeeth that a man shoukd seek permission from his wife, not only cii has decreed that a man doesn’t need permission but also most of the islamic scholars of the world agree on this http://islamqa.info/en/61.

    Secondly when did I say that in quran it says only speak to your wife when it’s necessary or when you need food etc, don’t make things up.
    Now although you are supposed to treat your wives equally but most of people don’t because being allowed in quran to marry upto 4 wives is all they need.

    amd no sir in islam men and women are in no way equal Quran 4.34, 4.11. 2.282 and there are many more verses and hadeeth that prove this, I’m just too lazy to look them all up.Recommend

  • Alina Javed Siddiqui

    59% said no? What kind of people are on the internet? Why are they on the internet when the are primate enough to say no? What is going on?Recommend

  • Naeem

    Our religion is complete and we respect it that way, we don’t disrespect our religion by changing it with the times.Recommend

  • Umaima Zainab

    This is sadRecommend

  • Manahil

    No on is saying polygamy is permitted or not. The fact is, if you want to take more than one wife, you have to treat them the same. Most of these men don’t even know how to be good husbands to one wife, let alone four. It’s also financially impossible to for polygamy to thrive easily. You need money, equally distributed to all wives. Love for them equally. Sexually satisfy all four of them. Most can’t even satisfy one.Recommend

  • irfan ahmad

    no dont blindly follow but if you disagree then plz bring some argument from Quraan and Sunnah..
    and if you cant, then whts your plea for your stance, thts claiming these guys wrong???Recommend

  • irfan ahmad

    ok mr,haris tell me one thing, if we accept the DNA as evidnece how can you distinguish the RAPE of Making Love by Will..
    ?? if some person by any reason Making Love By Will accuss other person of Rape . as DNA in both cases will show only one thing , tht is intercourse.. isnt it????Recommend

  • irfan ahmad

    ok mr,prof. tell me one thing, if we accept the DNA as evidnece how can you distinguish the RAPE or Making Love by Will..
    ?? if some person by any reason Making Love By Will accuss other person of Rape . as DNA in both cases will show only one thing , tht is intercourse.. isnt it????Recommend

  • Bilal

    you want us to prove that dna tests are unIslamic through quranic refrences? WOW!
    This is what we call a “parha likha jahil”

    Mr Irfan. You cant possibly find any reference to DNA tests in Quran because that technology did not exist during those times.
    Quran does not say anywhere that medical tests are haram for criminal trial. Islam preaches justice above all.
    Go educate yourself. It is the first revelation that came.
    Before you give us nonsense about Islam referring to Islamic education only when it says “ilm hasil karna farz hay” , let me educate you about the pre islamic times:
    During the propagation of islam, battles were fought and non-muslims were taken in as prisoners of war. Their penalty was to teach the muslims or the locals of makkah/madina. That education was NOT islamic education since those scholars weren’t muslims.
    God has made it mandatory for us to seek education. Why the hell would he forbid us to use the knowledge and the education to determine a non-biased outcome of a criminal trial?
    Even if you are a jahil, use your brain man. Its common sense. DNA testing is the accurate way. Islam isn’t forcing us to stay in the 16th century, just because DNA testing isnt mentioned in the Quran does not mean it is forbidden in Islam.
    Now to the main topic. Seeking permission is NOT unIslamic. As it is NOT haram in islam to ask your wife for permission for doing something that would effect her emotionally or financially. Islam does not order you to seek permission but that does not mean it is unislamic to ask for the permission like a civilized & considerate human being.Recommend

  • riziriz

    worst part is that many people support these guys and their ideology . Results of above question also show the same. (although the percentage calculation is not ok ;-) )Recommend

  • jack

    Well Muhammad marrying Ayesha certainly didn’t help, since following him is a Sunnah, and there is no consensual age for marriage in Islam anyway, and no a girl reaching her menstrual cycle does not mean she is old enough to have sex, girls as young as 10 or 11 can go through it, can you really blame this man or the bitter reality, the ideology itself?Recommend

  • Fakhar Anwar

    Written Permission of next marriage from existing wife / wives is exactly equal to expecting from an existing wife (or, wives) to accept a new woman as second wife and allow her (second wife) to share hers husband, commonly. In emotional psychology, no woman on earth shall ever be willing to give such a permission (at least not happily). Instead, a husband bringing this in acknowledgement of existing wife for seeking such permission will itself cause a shocking surprise leading to feeling of being hurt for existing wife. Above all, tendency of jealousy is one natural phenomenon in human beings, specially woman, so in reality these are two things are logically opposing each other;
    A) Allowing more than one wife, but with
    B) Written permission of existing wife (which is really not required in Islam)

    Logically, this is a ridiculous combination and like raising expectations from existing wife which she will never accede.

    The question that arise here is “why on earth a man should be allowed to marry more than one wives?” OR the question, “why on earth Islam allows a man to go for more than one marriages, at the same time”? OR, “Why Islam does not allow woman to enjoy similar rights of having more than one husbands / slaves at one time (Polyandry)?

    I can answer the questions above on to one’s utmost satisfaction on grounds mentioned below:

    1. Religious Point
    2. Social Benefits
    3. Medical (Proven) Reason
    4. Benefits to existing wives
    5. Benefits to Children of such Man (having multiple wives)

    If you need satisfactory answers in further details then i shall explain that to you upto your satisfaction level, such that you will yourself start thinking about the benefits of getting your husband married, happily. Just think positive and God has created gifts for you in everything.

    Kind Regards,

    Fakhar AnwarRecommend

  • Fakhar Anwar

    Medical Science answers your question and due to higher testosterones level than woman, man ismore inclined towards sexual reproduction from different women. In Islam, “Marriage” does not only become a means of sexual gratification of man but it also put a burden of responsibility of fulfilling the rights of woman, including security, support (moral and financial), and rights of generations from that woman. So it is a best trade-off. Girls call it “Love” but in reality it is the trap of nature through adrenaline / testosterone (male dominating sex hormones) which cause intense attraction and likeness for opposite gender which results in a bonding of “marriage contract”. Based on above speculation, i suggest that a managed form of Polygamy helps in preventing and controlling prostitution and provides a balance where women are not exploitted by man but are married to man with provision of certain wed-lock rights.Recommend

  • Temur

    How much you are sure about DNA . No false positive or false negative. DNA must be 100 percent.Recommend