[Sermon] Emir Sanusi’s Marriage To Adamawa Princess And Islam’s Position On Polygyny (Having More Than One Wife), By Imam Murtada Gusau

By Imam Murtada Gusau

In the Name of Allah,the All-beneficent, the All-Merciful

All the praises and thanks are to Allah who made marrying two or three or four women permissible. Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon the best one who applied this prescription and the best who observed justice in it (i.e. Prophet Muhammad).


Brothers and Sisters,

Allah does not prescribe anything but that it contains all good and benefit for the creatures. Allah Glorified and Exalted is all-wise, all- acquainted, and all-Merciful. Moreover, the Messenger of Allah, Prayersand Peace of Allah be upon him, does not speak from his own desire, but rather, it is only a revelation that is revealed. His speech is true and so are his actions. The Prophet never does anythingexcept by an order from Allah Almighty, never acknowledges anything that he sees from one of his companions except by a command from Allah. Amongst these things is Polygyny (not polygamy as some people call it). Allah Glorified and Exalted has prescribed and allowed it for many great wisdoms, noble aims, and sublime objectives such as purifying society from corruption, eliminating immoralities, protecting it from worry and preserving life so that it may remain safe and free from the bad effects of the diseases and foul smelling of immoralities and sins. That is because increasing number of women who do not have husbands is a cause of spreading fornication, debauchery, poverty, physical and psychological diseases such as anxiety, confusion, feeling of desolation, melancholy and the like.

Let everyone of us imagine that his sister or daughter has missed the train of marriage for any reason, or let everyone imagine the situation of the widow or the divorced that Allah almighty preordained her to be in this condition. Who will embark upon marrying such women? Let’s ask ourselves sincerely.

Will a young man who is in the prime of his life marry them?

Had not AllahprescribedPolygyny, what would have been the fate of these women who wait for a half or a quarter of a man?

Therefore, this clarifies that polygyny is for the interest of women at the first place before it is for the interest of man. It is not at all a kind of oppression practiced against woman, as some may believe. The one who prescribed polygyny is Allah Glorified and Exalted, who said in the Divine Hadith: 

“O my slaves, I have forbidden oppression to Myself and I have made it forbidden among you, so do not wrong one another.” [Reported my Muslim]

Can Allah forbid oppression then allow polygyny that implies oppression to woman?

Absolutely not and it cannot be.

That is because Allah is the One who has created the woman and He is the one who knows best her conditions and knows that polygyny will not harm her in anyway. Allah Almighty has said: 

“{Should not He who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves), All-Aware (of everything)}.” [Surah Al-Mulk, 67:14]

He also says:

“{Say,do you know better or does Allah (Knows better)}.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:140]

Allah Almighty has made polygyny permissible for the interest of woman by not preventing her from marriage, for the interest of man by not stopping his benefits, and for the interest of the nation by the multiplicity of its offspring. It is a prescription from the One Who is All-Wise and All-Acquainted. No one can challenge it except the one whom Allah has blinded his eyes by disbelief, hypocrisy, ignorance or stubbornness.

Polygyny in other Societies

We Muslims are not the only people who seek and call for polygyny. Rather, the non-Muslim countries began to ask for it and call upon applying it.They have witnessed the corruption and deviation that took place in their societies due to the great number of mistresses. This matter affected badly some societies of these countries, so its children become weak and their births have decreased to the extent of threatening with perishing. As a result, those who know something about the Islamic religion among them expressed publicly that they hope to adopt its satisfactory teachings and real virtues, which include polygyny. Furthermore, some of the intellectuals of the foreign women said in public that they hope that every man is better to have more than one wife so that every woman may have a man that can be responsible for and support her. A man, on whom she may depend on and retreat to, this also will remove the afflictions from them, and that their daughters will be housewives and mothers of legitimate children. Bertrand Russell, the English writer said: 

“Strict monogamy is based on the assumption that the numbers of the sexes is approximately equal. Whereas this is not the case, it involves extensive cruelty on those women who are compelled to remain single because of some circumstances.”

Fellow Nigerians,

We have come a long way as Nigerians in living our dream as a nation. To have remained one indivisible nation for fifty-five years inspite of all the challenges that have been confronting us as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation we not only deserves to be celebrated but also calls for thanksgiving to Allah the Almighty. Let us maintain and preserve this gift from Allah by respecting each others religious and cultural practices.

My respected people,

The two major religions in Nigeria- Islam and Christianity – don’t prohibit marriage at the age of 18. The Nigerian constitution also doesn’t prohibit it, so why someone would criticize religious and cultural practices of others that he doesn’t understand? Why some people because of their hatred and enmity towards others don’t accept religious and cultural differences? Is there any law that prohibits a fifty-four year old man wedding an 18 year old woman? I don’t know why these enemies of peace, ignoramuses who doesn’t understand the meaning of peaceful co-existence use the #Childnotbride hashtag to mobilize people’s opinion against the emir Sanusi’s marriage to the Adamawa Princess Sa’adatuBarkindo Mustafa? I think we deserve respect from our brothers and sisters from different religious and cultural backgrounds in other to live in peace, unity, harmony and progress. We must avoid hate speeches and actions that will jeopardize our peaceful co-existence if it’s true we are law-abiding citizens and good Nigerians. Why are we always claiming that we are educated and at the same time behaving like uneducated?

Fellow Nigerians,

Marriage to more than one wife at the same time – polygyny – is a practice as old as the history of man, and is allowed in Islamic law. Among others, polygyny was well known to the Ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, Japanese, Hindus, Russians and Germanic peoples.

Brothers and Sisters,

Also all previous revealed religions practiced and condoned Polygyny. The Old and New Testaments are at the foremost in the list of the religious Books that legalized and practiced it. Many of the Prophets of Allah before Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) entered into plural marriages. Prophet Abraham had two wives; Prophet Jacob had four wives; and Prophet David had ninety-nine wives (may Allah exalt their mention). Prophet Solomon (May Allah exalt their mention) had seven hundred wives who were free noble women, and three hundred other wives who were slave women. No where does the law of the Prophet Moses (may Allah exalt their mention) set or determine a specific number of wives to which a husband was entitled. The compilers of the Talmud, who lived around Jerusalem, decided upon a certain number of wives for a man, and some Jewish scholars only permitted a second wife or more if the first wife was permanently ill or barren. Still other Jewish scholars did not permit plural marriages at all.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus (peace be upon him) is commissioned to comply with and complete the Laws of Moses (may Allah exalt their mention) and we cannot find a single quote in the Bible or any other man made law that forbids plural marriage or marrying 18 years old woman. The prohibition of plural marriages in Christianity came about only as a result of legislation set forth certain segments of the Christian Church, and not by the original teachings of Christianity itself.

For this reason we find many examples of Christians taking multiple wives. The Irish king, Ditharmet, for instance, had two wives. King Frederick the Second had two wives with the church’s approval. Thus, it must be noticed that prohibition was in the hands of the priests of the church, and not in accordance with any universally recognized original law of Jesus Christ himself (may Allah exalt their mention). Martin Luther, the German Priest who first established the Protestant sect, considered plural marriage acceptable and advocated it on many occasions.

My Dearest Fellow Nigerians,

Polygyny was well known also amongst pagan Arab tribes prior to the advent of Islam but there was no limitation for the number of wives, like in the cases of some of the Prophets mentioned above. With the advent of Islam, the Islamic law condoned Polygyny but a man was limited to only four wives, and specific rules regulated these marriages. There are numerous examples in the authentic traditions wherein the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) obligated those who had more than four wives, when they accepted Islam, to choose four and divorce the rest honourably. Allah, the Most Beneficent, said:

“(And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.”(Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:3)

Thus we see that strict justice and fairness in treatment, and avoiding any injustice and wrong practices against all wives, is stipulated and conditional for those who wish to take more than one wife. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) warned against favoritism saying:

“He who has two wives and is not just between them, he will come on the Day of Resurrection with one of sides fallen.” (Abu Dawud 2133 and Tirmidhi 1141 reported the Hadith and is authentic)

Justice and fairness, in this context, applies to material things such as expenditure, fair division of wealth, gifts, time etc. as for emotional matters, such as love and inclination of the heart towards one wife over the other, it is recognized that man has no control over his innermost heart and emotions, as they are involuntary. Allah, the Most Beneficent, said:

“You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire (i.e. emotions of the heart), so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e. neither divorced or married). And Ifyou do justice, and do all that is right and fear Allah by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allah is Ever oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:129)

Aishah, the mother of the believers and the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated: 

“The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) would distribute everything justly among his wives, then say: O Allah! This is my division for what I possess, O Allah! Do not blame me for what you alone possess while I do not (i.e. emotions of the heart).”(Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi others, but with a weak chain)

A man who is impotent should not seek any marriage since he is unable to fulfill its basic requirement. He who knows for sure that he is financially incapable of supporting another wife and household, is not allowed to seek another marriage, just as the bachelor who seeks to marry must strive to earn the wherewithal and must be able to sustain his wife and future children. As Allah says, and which can be taken as a general rule:

”And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them with His Bounty.”(Surah An-Nuur, 24:33)

Let us take a look of some conditions that befall people of any society, and then assess whether Polygyny is a good solution for the problems that occur, and also the practice of Polygyny is in favour of a woman or against her! The following points prove that monogamy in many situations leads to promiscuity, prostitution or divorce.

For example, if a woman is sterile and the husband is interested in having children, should he divorce the woman and marry a second wife? Or, if she chooses to stay married to him, should he take a second wife giving them both equal rights as his lawful wives?

If a wife is chronically ill and cannot maintain her marital relations with her husband, should he keep her and take a second wife wherein she remains perfectly honoured, cared for and provided for by her husband? Or should he divorce her?

Some men are financially strong, and sexually demanding and potent with higher levels of hormonal testosterone. One wife may not be able to fulfill his lawful and natural sexual desire. If the menstrual period or after-birth-confinement period is notably longer than normal, or if she has no natural sexual desire to match that of the husband, or other scenarios, what is better for both husband and wife in such a case? Is it better for the man to remain frustrated and pent up, or seek unlawful sexual satisfaction outside the marriage? Or to acquire other lawful wives who can help to keep him chaste and satisfied?

In various parts of the world international and civil wars and other catastrophes often take their toll on men more than women. Even naturally, the demographic number of females, for various reasons, is often more than males in most countries. The best example of this is the case of the First World War, and the Second World War, which claimed the lives of an astronomical number of men who had participated in the fighting, with tens of millions of them being killed. In other trouble spots the disproportionate death ratios are similar. In such a case, if every man had only one wife, what would be the necessary destiny of the women left without lawful marriage to satisfy their social, financial and sexual needs? Some women may be tempted to satisfy their sexual desires in unlawful ways through fornication, lesbian activities or prostitution, a destabilizing and abominable factor for any dignified, sensible society. The abundance of women without husbands, or male relatives to care and protect their interests, is one factor that helps spread corruption and illegitimate sexual activities in societies. What is better for a society and for such women in this case: to remain single and suffer all the consequences of life without marriage; or to accept to be a second, third or fourth wife with an honest, protective, honourable and chaste man?

Promiscuity unfortunately exists in all modern societies, but should it be legalized or condoned, as is the case under man-made laws, with all the social consequences? In most contemporary societies only monogamous marriage is legal, but extra-marital relations are allowed as a socially acceptable substitute for the situations mentioned above, in the form of mistresses, girlfriends, escort services, prostitution and common law marriages. These types of relationships have no merits of their own to stand on, and if the couple does not eventually get legally married, the illicit relationship often leads to abuse and conflict. These illicit relationships are only meant to fulfill sexual interests of the two parties involved without the responsibilities, and abuse the rights of the women in general. Legally it imposes no financial, social or emotional obligations, and if the woman becomes pregnant, it is her own problem, with the illegitimate children left without the support of a family and sometimes abandoned to the social service system. Men, generally, are not obliged to admit the paternity of the child, thus not obliged to take financial responsibility for the child. Abortions proliferate in this kind of society. In accordance with Islamic Law, a second, third, or fourth wife enjoys all the rights and privileges of the first wife without an iota of injustice or dishonor to her.

Adultery, fornication and all extra-marital sexual relations are strictly forbidden in Islam and the Prophet took all measures to protect the society from these social diseases which, if they become widespread, can only bring harm and destruction upon individuals, families, and the basic bond holding the society together as a whole. The following tradition shows the wisdom of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and patience in convincing a young virile man, by eloquent analogies, the injustice of double standards and the evils of wanton desires leading to fornication and adultery. No one would want his own female relatives to be exploited, used and abused, so how, then, can they allow themselves to exploit others?

An authentic tradition narrates:

“A young man came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and asked:O Messenger of Allah, permit me (with special license) to commit fornication (and adultery).”The people started to rebuke him harshly, but the Prophet sat close to him and asked: “Would you like it for your mother?He replied “No, by Allah, may Allah make me sacrifice for you!”The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their mothers,” and continued:“Would you like it for your daughter?”“No” he replied. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their daughters,” and continued:Would you like it for your paternal Aunt?”“No” he replied.The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their maternal aunts,” and asked:“Would you like it for your maternal aunt?”“No” he replied. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their maternal aunts.”Then the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) put his blessed hand on the youth and said: “O Allah forgive his sin and purify his heart and make him chaste (fortify his abstinence from sexual sins).(Ahmad reported the Hadith 22265 and is authentic)

One might say that this tradition is a practical application of the golden rule as mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him): 

“None of you (truly) believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.” (Bukhari 15 and Muslim 44 reported it)

Polygyny in the Islamic society is limited to four wives only; the marriages being performed lawfully with a proper marriage contract, witnesses, etc. the man must bear all financial burdens and responsibilities to his wives and children that arise from his marriages. All the children are legitimate and must be raised and cared for under the responsibility of both Parents.

One might ask that, if we permit polygyny for men, why is not polyandry permitted for women? The answer to this question is simple since numerous natural and physical reasons, as indicated above, preclude this

as a viable option. Men in almost all societies of the world have the position, domination and authority over the households due to their natural endowment and strength. Even if, for argument’s sake, we forego the idea of their strength and suppose that a woman has two or more husbands, the question will arise: who will have the ultimate authority and leadership of the home – as this would create harmful competition, jealousy, anger and hatred among the husbands and result in great destruction in the society.

Moreover, if a woman were allowed to be married to more than one man, who would be the legal father of the child she bears, and how would fatherhood be convincingly determined? What would happen to the demography of the society after some generations of this arrangement? Would the men be able to remain chaste within their marriage vows in such an arrangement with one wife, or would he be tempted into promiscuity? The answers to all these questions are obvious. Since a woman can only become pregnant approximately once a year and she can get pregnant by only one man at a time, while a man can naturally impregnate more than one woman on a continual basis, it follows that it is more logical and natural that the man has more than one wife and that she doesn’t engage more than one husband.

Above all in polygyny, the man is responsible for the provision of all of his wives and children, which keeps everything in order, while this is not case in polyandry, thus impractical from any conceivable angle whatsoever. The following are statements of some western thinkers who demanded polygyny and considered it the only solution for the problems they were confronted with in their societies.

Gustav Le Bon, the well-known French thinker, says in his book Arabic Civilization:

“Polygyny enables the society to reduce crisis, prevents the mistress problem and cures the society from illegitimate children.”

Annie Besant, in her book on Indian Religions says:

“I read in the Old Testament that the closest friend to God, whose heart acts upon the will of God, was polygynous. Moreover, the New Testament did not forbid Polygamy except for priests or ministers of the church, who were required to keep and maintain one wife only. Old Indian religious books also permitted Polygamy. It is easy, however, to criticize others in their religious practices. And that is what made people accuse Islam and attack it for its permission of Polygamy. However, it is strange that Westerners are against the restricted and limited Polygamy of the Muslims, while they suffer from wide scale prostitution and promiscuity in their own societies. A close examining look at the Western society illustrates that only a few pure, chaste and honest men respect their clean marital relationships and honour their marriage to one single wife and have no other sexual relationship outside marriage. It is an incorrect and inaccurate statement, therefore, to describe a community as monogamous, in which the men maintain a single marriage, while they are indeed having mistresses, girlfriends and other means of sexual relationship outside marriage to their legal and lawful wife.If we were to be fair and just, we could see that Polygamy in Islam protects, honours, maintains and respects women in society. Polygamy is better than the Western prostitution that permits a man to have mistress or a girl friend to fulfill his sexual desire with no respect to the feelings, emotions, needs and honour of the women. The man will disown that woman as soon as he gets his satisfaction. The man has no social commitment or obligation towards the mistress or the girl friend. She is only meant to fulfill his sexual needs of the moment and give him the company he needs temporarily. Even though some people declare both polygamy and fornication or prostitution as bad and unacceptable, yet it is unfair for the non-Muslims to blame a Muslim for doing the same thing that he does while his society accepts and condones it.”

Jawad, a well-known English scholar, says:

“The stiff British system which prevents Polygamy is an unfair and unacceptable system. It severely hurts approximately two million women who have become old maids. These women have lost their youth and were deprived of having children. Thus, these women were forced to throw away the moral values as one throws away the pit of a date.” 

Mobenar, a member of the previous French Parliament noted:

“There are two and a half million French girls now who cannot find a husband, if we assume that every French young man will marry only one woman. I frankly declare what I truly believe is that a woman will not enjoy a healthy life unless she becomes a mother. I believe that any law which passes a judgment that such a big number of the members of a society should live opposing, contradicting and neglecting to fulfill the natural laws of man on the Earth is but a cruel and savage law that contradicts the simplest meaning of justice and fairness.”

 Karen Armstrong a British author and commentator known for her books on comparative religion, says in her book, Muhammad, page 190:

“Polygamy was not designed to improve the sex life of the boys and men – it was piece of social legislation.”

Ira Lurvey, of the family law section of American Bar Association says:

“Because we refuse to learn from Islamic polygamy we are going from monogamy to something called serial monogamy and we have no rules and guidelines; we are groping in the dark for how to conduct our lives.”

In 1959, the United Nations published a special publication stating:

“This publication has proven, by numbers and statistics, that the entire world is now facing a growing problem of illegitimate children, as opposed to legitimate children. The number of illegitimate children has increased 60% in some countries. In panama, for instance, the percentage of illegitimate births soared to 75% of the total number of births in the country. This means that three out of every four children are illegitimate, born outside of wedlock. The highest percentage of illegitimate births is stated to be in Latin America.”

At the same time, the publication proves and indicates that the number of illegitimate births in the Islamic world is almost nil (in comparison with other countries). The editor of the publication goes on to say that Islamic countries are protected against such social problems and diseases due to the fact that the people practice polygamy.

My respected people, Fellow Nigerians,this is the truth, and nothing but the truth.And Shaykhul Islam Ibn al-Qayyim (May Allah have mercy upon him) stated:

“Whoever the truth has been presented to and he rejects it, not accepting it, he is punished by way of his heart, intellect and point of view becoming corrupted.” (See his book, MiftaahDaris Sa’aadah 1/99)

A good citizen must respect and love those who tell him the truth no matter how hard it is. AndWeather we are Muslims, Christians, Southerners, Northerners, irrespective of our locations, regions, tribes, our social standings, should know that Nigeria needs all hands on deck for us to move forward as a nation.

O Allah, satisfies every hungry one, clothe every unclothed one, help every debtor pay his debts, relieve every distressed one, release every prisoner unjustly imprisoned, cure every sick one, forgive every dead one, ease our poverty by your wealth. I pray for peace, unity and development in Nigeria, Ameen.

May Allah guide everyone to what he loves and what pleases Him. Allah knows best. Prayers and peace of Allah be upon our prophet Muhammad, and upon all his family and Companions.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Dhul-Hijjah 25, 1436 A.H (October 9, 2015), by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque, Okene, Kogi state Nigeria. He can be reached through: 08038289761 (+2348038289761)