Muslim countries where polygamy is legal

Polygamy, the practice of having multiple spouses, has been a topic of interest in many cultures around the world. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at Muslim countries where polygamy is legal. We’ll explore the reasons behind this practice, delve into some of the challenges and controversies surrounding it. We will provide an overview of the countries that allow polygamous marriages. Join us on this insightful journey as we navigate through social and religious perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of polygamy in Muslim communities.

Polygamy In Muslim Countries: An Overview

In several Muslim countries, polygamy is legal and practiced. Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Central African countries are among those where multiple marriages are allowed under Islamic law. While the reasons for entering into polygamous relationships vary from one individual to another, it remains an important aspect of cultural and religious practices in these nations.

Understanding Polygamy

Definition of polygamy: Polygamy refers to the practice of being married to multiple spouses simultaneously. It is a form of marriage that allows individuals to have more than one spouse at the same time.

This practice has historical roots in various cultures, including Muslim-majority countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Central Africa.

Polygamy In Islamic Law

Islamic principles on marriage and family recognize polygyny, the practice of having multiple wives, under certain conditions. In Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Central Africa where polygamy is legal, men may marry up to four wives if they can fulfill the necessary requirements. These include financial stability to provide for each wife equally and justly in terms of emotional support and material needs.

While polygamous marriages are permitted in Islam with proper conditions, it is essential to consider the well-being of women involved. Women in polygamous marriage may face challenges such as feelings of insecurity due to sharing their husband’s attention and resources. It becomes crucial for society to ensure that women have equal rights within these relationships and are protected from potential harm or neglect by implementing supportive laws that promote their welfare.

1. Saudi Arabia: One of the Muslim countries where polygamy is legal is Saudi Arabia. In this country, men are allowed to have up to four wives at a time.

2. United Arab Emirates: Another Muslim country that permits polygamy is the United Arab Emirates. Here, men can also marry multiple wives simultaneously under certain conditions and religious guidelines.

3. Qatar: Qatar is yet another Muslim nation where polygamy is recognized by law. Men in Qatar have the right to enter into marriages with multiple women, as long as they meet specific requirements set forth by Islamic principles.

4. Iran: Moving on to Iran, it too allows for polygamous marriages within its borders according to Islamic law. However, husbands must obtain permission from an Iranian court and provide justifiable reasons before taking on additional wives.

5. Egypt: Lastly, Egypt stands out among other Muslim nations as one where polygamy remains legal. However, it is regulated by strict laws and judicial oversight processes to ensure fairness and justice for all parties involved.

These countries demonstrate varying degrees of acceptance towards polygamous unions while adhering closely to their own interpretations of Islamic teachings regarding marriage practices within their respective societies

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, polygamy is legal and regulated by strict laws. Men are permitted to have up to four wives as long as they can provide for each wife equally in terms of financial support. This practice is influenced by social and cultural factors such as religion, traditional gender roles, and the desire for large families. However, polygamy has raised concerns about women’s rights and equality in the country, as it can lead to unequal treatment among wives and limited opportunities for education or employment for women in these relationships.

United Arab Emirates

Legal Framework for Polygamy in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), polygamy is legally permitted under certain conditions. According to Sharia law, a Muslim man can have up to four wives simultaneously, as long as he can meet their financial and emotional needs equally. The legal framework emphasizes fairness and aims to protect women’s rights within such arrangements.

Historical Context and Traditional Practices Related to Polygamy

Polygamy has historical roots in Emirati society, dating back to Bedouin traditions where men took multiple wives for various reasons, including social status and reproduction. While modernization has led to a decline in polygamous marriages, some traditional practices still exist among certain communities that value this form of marriage.

Attitudes Towards Polygamy in Emirati Society

Attitudes towards polygamy vary within Emirati society. Some individuals view it as an outdated practice that conflicts with contemporary notions of gender equality and monogamous relationships. However, others see it as a culturally significant aspect of their heritage and accept it when practiced responsibly within the boundaries set by Islamic teachings.


Muslim Countries Where Polygamy Is Legal

In Qatar, multiple marriages are legally permitted under Islamic law. Religion plays a significant role in allowing polygamous unions, as it is based on the teachings of Islam. This has implications on family structure and dynamics, as it can lead to complex relationships between spouses and children within the household.


Polygamous relationships under Iranian law are permitted, with men being allowed to have up to four wives. However, there are certain conditions that must be met for a man to engage in polygamy, such as obtaining permission from his current wife/wives and demonstrating financial ability to support multiple households.

Culturally, plural marriage within Iran’s society is viewed differently by different groups. While some see it as a way of preserving traditional values and expanding their family networks, others criticize it as perpetuating gender inequality and subjugation of women.

The impact on gender roles, family structures, and social norms in Iran is significant due to the existence of polygamous relationships. Women may face competition among co-wives for their husband’s attention and resources, reinforcing patriarchal dynamics within families. Additionally, children born into these marriages may experience complex familial arrangements that can affect their sense of belonging and identity.


polygamy in Muslim countries

Egypt is one of the Muslim countries where polygamy is legal. The practice of having multiple wives is permitted under Islamic law, although there are certain conditions and restrictions that must be followed. Polygamy in Egypt has been a topic of debate and controversy, with some advocating for its abolition while others argue for its preservation as a cultural and religious right.

In Egypt, a man can marry up to four wives at a time, but he must treat them equally in terms of financial support and emotional care. However, obtaining permission from the first wife before marrying another woman is not required by law. While polygamous marriages are legally recognized in Egypt, they are not as common today compared to previous decades due to changing societal norms and greater emphasis on women’s rights.

Challenges And Controversies

1. Unequal treatment of women: The legality of polygamy in certain Muslim countries raises concerns about the rights and status of women. Critics argue that it perpetuates gender inequality, as men are allowed multiple wives while women are not granted the same privilege. This practice can lead to power imbalances within relationships and limit opportunities for women’s empowerment.

2. Societal upheaval: Legalizing polygamy can have social and economic consequences within communities. It may result in increased competition among men for wives, leading to a shortage of available partners for unmarried individuals. Additionally, polygamous marriages often involve large families with multiple children, which can strain resources such as housing, education, and healthcare systems.

3.Public opinion and criticisms: The legalization of polygamy in some Muslim countries has sparked heated debates both domestically and internationally. Critics argue that it goes against principles of gender equality and human rights while also reinforcing patriarchal norms. Others believe that it is a fundamental aspect of religious freedom that should be respected despite its controversial nature.

4.Religious interpretations: Polygamy raises questions about varying interpretations within different branches or sects of Islam regarding its permissibility or restrictions. Disagreements arise over whether the practice should be limited by conditions such as obtaining consent from all parties involved or ensuring equal treatment among spouses.

Impact On Women’s Rights

Legal protection for women in Muslim countries where polygamy is legal varies greatly. While some countries have implemented laws to safeguard the rights of women in polygamous marriages, such as requiring the husband to obtain permission from his first wife or providing guidelines on financial support, others lack sufficient legal provisions. This disparity can leave many women vulnerable and without adequate recourse if their rights are violated.

Gender inequality concerns arise within these societies due to the inherent power dynamics present in polygamous marriages. Multiple wives often find themselves competing for attention and resources, which can foster an environment of jealousy and inequality. Additionally, societal norms may uphold male dominance within these relationships, further exacerbating gender disparities.

The legalization of polygamy potentially has significant effects on divorce rates among couples within Muslim countries who choose this practice. While some argue that allowing multiple spouses could reduce divorce rates by offering more options for dissatisfied individuals, others contend that it may lead to higher instances of marital instability and dissolution due to increased competition and conflict between spouses.

Social And Economic Consequences

Financial implications for families can be significant in Muslim countries where polygamy is legal. With multiple wives and children to support, the financial burden on men can be overwhelming, often leading to strained resources and increased poverty rates within these households. Additionally, social dynamics within polygamous relationships can create complex power structures and emotional challenges for all parties involved. Jealousy, competition, and unequal distribution of attention are common issues that can negatively impact the overall well-being of the family. Furthermore, the impact on children’s upbringing in such environments may result in feelings of insecurity, confusion regarding parental roles, and a lack of individualized attention from their fathers due to divided responsibilities among multiple spouses.

Public Opinion And Criticisms

  • ‘Traditional’ versus ‘modern’ viewpoints:

In many Muslim countries where polygamy is legal, public opinion on the practice remains deeply divided. Traditionalists argue that polygamy is part of their cultural heritage and a religiously sanctioned right for men. They believe it promotes family values and provides financial security for women. On the other hand, modernists view polygamy as outdated and patriarchal, highlighting the need to prioritize gender equality in relationships.

  • Critiques from feminist movements:

Feminist movements have been vocal in their criticisms of polygamous marriages. They argue that this practice perpetuates inequality between genders by granting men more power over women’s lives and choices. Feminists advocate for reforms in marriage laws to ensure equal rights for all individuals involved.

  • ‘Double standards’ in marriage laws:

One common criticism directed towards societies allowing multiple marriages revolves around the existence of double standards within marriage laws. While men are legally permitted to have multiple wives, women are often prohibited from engaging in similar marital arrangements. This disparity reinforces gender inequalities within these societies and undermines notions of fairness and justice.


Polygamy is a complex issue with varying degrees of cultural and legal acceptance in Muslim countries. Understanding the laws and practices surrounding polygamy requires careful research and consideration, as they vary widely across different societies. It is important to recognize that diverse perspectives exist among individuals when it comes to this topic.

Deep dive into the article here to get complete understanding of polygamious culture in Arab countries where it is legally recognized.