History of Marriage


History of Marriage in the Arab World

Marriage is one of the hot issues whenever Islam or the Muslim world is in question because the Western world finds it very hard to come to grips with why Muhammad had seven wives and why Muslim men are allowed to have four wives.

They see this as a blatant move towards oppression of women. However the history in the Muslim world needs to be read in context of what society's issues were 1400 years ago and the ruling behind these laws.


According to the traditions of marriage in Islamic society, polygamy was allowed provided certain requirements were fulfilled.

These requirements include that permission be sought from the first wife if you wish to marry again and that the husband is fair to each of the wives.

If they are financially dependent on him, as they were in many cases at that time, he needs to provide equal amounts of his wealth to them. He cannot play favorites in any regard. He needs to spend as much time with each and not be partial to the children of any wife either.

The Holy Book for Muslims, the Koran explicitly states that if a man cannot be fair to his wives, and it is hard to be absolutely fair, then he should just marry one woman.

However, at the time of war, many men were killed and widows were often married to other men as they were provided for this way.

Another reason why polygamy was allowed according to the history of marriage in these traditions is that it is better to legally and publicly marry a woman rather than have an illicit affair or extra marital relationships.

This in turn gives women more respect as they are legally married to a man rather than just be his mistress. If a man felt that he was unable to be faithful to one wife, he can become polygamous as per the history of marriage in Arabian times as opposed to being unfaithful and doing things undercover.

However, in present day, polygamy is hardly heard of as managing one wife and keeping up with her demands and the requirements of her children is enough to keep one man busy for all his life!

And if Arabs or Muslims live in a country like the United States where polygamy is illegal, then they are obliged to abide by the law of the land.

History of Marriage

Share this page: