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The Prohibition of Taking Two Sisters as Rival Wives

Allah said,

﴿ وَأَن تَجۡمَعُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡأُخۡتَيۡنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدۡ سَلَفَ‌ۗ

(...and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed;) The Ayah commands: you are prohibited to take two sisters as rival wives, or rival female-servants, except for what had happened to you during the time of Jahiliyyah, which We have forgiven and erased. Therefore, no one is allowed to take or keep two sisters as rival wives, according to the consensus of the scholars of the Companions, their followers, and the Imams of old and present. They all stated that taking two sisters as rival wives is prohibited, and that whoever embraces Islam while married to two sisters at the same time is given the choice to keep one of them and divorce the other. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ad-Dahhak bin Fayruz said that his father said, "I embraced Islam while married to two sisters at the same time and the Prophet commanded me to divorce one of them.''

﴿ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُڪُمۡ‌ۖ كِتَـٰبَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَآءَ ذَٲلِڪُمۡ أَن تَبۡتَغُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِكُم مُّحۡصِنِينَ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ‌ۚ فَمَا ٱسۡتَمۡتَعۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۡہُنَّ فَـَٔاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً۬‌ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِيمَا تَرَٲضَيۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ٱلۡفَرِيضَةِ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً۬ا

(24. Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek them (with a dowry) from your property, desiring chastity, not fornication. So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due, but if you agree mutually (to give more) after the requirement (has been determined), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.)

Forbidding Women Already Married, Except for Female Slaves

Allah said,

﴿ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess.) The Ayah means, you are prohibited from marrying women who are already married,

﴿ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(except those whom your right hands possess) except those whom you acquire through war, for you are allowed such women after making sure they are not pregnant. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed,

﴿ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess). Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women.'' This is the wording collected by At-Tirmidhi An-Nasa'i, Ibn Jarir and Muslim in his Sahih. Allah's statement,

﴿ كِتَـٰبَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۚ

(Thus has Allah ordained for you) means, this prohibition was ordained for you by Allah. Therefore, adhere to Allah's Book, do not transgress His set limits, and adhere to His legislation and decrees.

The Permission to Marry All Other Women

Allah said,

﴿ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَآءَ ذَٲلِڪُمۡ

(All others are lawful) meaning, you are allowed to marry women other than the prohibited types mentioned here, as `Ata' and others have stated. Allah's statement,

﴿ أَن تَبۡتَغُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِكُم مُّحۡصِنِينَ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ‌ۚ

(provided you seek them (with a dowry) from your property, desiring chastity, not fornication,) meaning, you are allowed to use your money to marry up to four wives and for (the purchase of) as many female slaves as you like, all through legal means,

﴿ مُّحۡصِنِينَ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ‌ۚ

((desiring) chastity, not fornication.) Allah's statement,

﴿ فَمَا ٱسۡتَمۡتَعۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۡہُنَّ فَـَٔاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً۬‌ۚ

(So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due,) means, to enjoy them sexually, surrender to them their rightful dowry as compensation. In other Ayat, Allah said,

﴿ وَكَيۡفَ تَأۡخُذُونَهُ ۥ وَقَدۡ أَفۡضَىٰ بَعۡضُڪُمۡ إِلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ۬

(And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other),

﴿ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلنِّسَآءَ صَدُقَـٰتِہِنَّ نِحۡلَةً۬‌ۚ

(And give to the women (whom you marry) their dowry with a good heart), and,

﴿ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَڪُمۡ أَن تَأۡخُذُواْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَيۡتُمُوهُنَّ شَيۡـًٔا

(And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of what (dowry) you gave them)

Prohibiting the Mut`ah of Marriage

Mujahid stated that,

﴿ فَمَا ٱسۡتَمۡتَعۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۡہُنَّ فَـَٔاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً۬‌ۚ

(So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due,) was revealed about the Mut`ah marriage. A Mut`ah marriage is a marriage that ends upon a predetermined date. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Leader of the Faithful `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "The Messenger of Allah prohibited Mut`ah marriage and eating the meat of domesticated donkeys on the day of Khaybar (battle).'' In addition, in his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ar-Rabi` bin Sabrah bin Ma`bad Al-Juhani said that his father said that he accompanied the Messenger of Allah during the conquest of Makkah, and that the Prophet said,

« يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي كُنْتُ أَذِنْتُ لَكُمْ فِي الاسْتِمْتَاعِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ، وَإنَّ اللهَ قَدْ حَرَّمَ ذَلِكَ إِلى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ، فَمَنْ كَانَ عِنَدَهُ مِنْهُنَّ شَيْءٌ فَلْيُخَلِّ سَبِيلَهُ، وَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شيئًا »

(O people! I allowed you the Mut`ah marriage with women before. Now, Allah has prohibited it until the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, anyone who has any women in Mut`ah, let him let them go, and do not take anything from what you have given them.) Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِيمَا تَرَٲضَيۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ٱلۡفَرِيضَةِ‌ۚ

(but if you agree mutually (to give more) after the requirement (has been determined), there is no sin on you.) is similar to His other statement,

﴿ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلنِّسَآءَ صَدُقَـٰتِہِنَّ نِحۡلَةً۬‌ۚ

(And give to the women their dowry with a good heart). The meaning of these Ayat is: If you have stipulated a dowry for her, and she later forfeits it, either totally or partially, then this bears no harm on you or her in this case. Ibn Jarir said, "Al-Hadrami said that some men would designate a certain dowry, but then fall into financial difficulties. Therefore, Allah said that there is no harm on you, O people, concerning your mutual agreement after the requirement (has been determined).'' meaning, if she gives up part of the dowry, then you men are allowed to accept that. Allah's statement,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً۬ا

(Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.) is suitable here, after Allah mentioned these prohibitions.

﴿ وَمَن لَّمۡ يَسۡتَطِعۡ مِنكُمۡ طَوۡلاً أَن يَنڪِحَ ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ فَمِن مَّا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـٰتِكُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ أَعۡلَمُ بِإِيمَـٰنِكُم‌ۚ بَعۡضُكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۚ فَٱنكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذۡنِ أَهۡلِهِنَّ وَءَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ مُحۡصَنَـٰتٍ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحَـٰتٍ۬ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَٲتِ أَخۡدَانٍ۬‌ۚ فَإِذَآ أُحۡصِنَّ فَإِنۡ أَتَيۡنَ بِفَـٰحِشَةٍ۬ فَعَلَيۡہِنَّ نِصۡفُ مَا عَلَى ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَنۡ خَشِىَ ٱلۡعَنَتَ مِنكُمۡ‌ۚ وَأَن تَصۡبِرُواْ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(25. And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess, and Allah has full knowledge about your faith, you are one from another. Wed them with the permission of their own folk (guardians) and give them their due in a good manner; they should be chaste, not fornicators, nor promiscuous. And after they have been taken in wedlock, if they commit Fahishah, their punishment is half that for free (unmarried) women. This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body; but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)

Marrying a Female Slave, if One Cannot Marry a Free Woman

Allah said, those who do not have,

﴿ مِنكُمۡ طَوۡلاً

(the means), financial capability,

﴿ أَن يَنڪِحَ ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ

(Wherewith to wed free believing women) meaning, free faithful, chaste women.

﴿ فَمِن مَّا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـٰتِكُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ‌ۚ

(They may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess,) meaning, they are allowed to wed believing slave girls owned by the believers.

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ أَعۡلَمُ بِإِيمَـٰنِكُم‌ۚ بَعۡضُكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۚ

(and Allah has full knowledge about your faith; you are one from another.) Allah knows the true reality and secrets of all things, but you people know only the apparent things. Allah then said,

﴿ فَٱنكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذۡنِ أَهۡلِهِنَّ

(Wed them with the permission of their own folk) indicating that the owner is responsible for the slave girl, and consequently, she cannot marry without his permission. The owner is also responsible for his male slave and they cannot wed without his permission. A Hadith states,

« أَيُّمَا عَبْدٍ تَزَوَّجَ بِغَيْرِ إِذْنِ مَوَالِيهِ، فَهُوَ عَاهِر »

(Any male slave who marries without permission from his master, is a fornicator.) When the owner of the female slave is a female, those who are allowed to give away the free woman in marriage, with her permission, become responsible for giving away her female slave in marriage, as well. A Hadith states that

« لَا تُزَوِّجِ الْمَرْأَةُ الْمَرْأَةَ، وَلَا الْمَرْأَةُ نَفْسَهَا، فَإِنَّ الزَّانِيَةَ هِيَ الَّتِي تُزَوِّجُ نَفْسَهَا »

(The woman does not give away another woman, or herself in marriage, for only the adulteress gives herself away in marriage.) Allah's statement,

﴿ وَءَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ

(And give them their due in a good manner;) meaning, pay them their dowry with a good heart, and do not keep any of it, belittling the matter due to the fact that they are owned slaves. Allah's statement,

﴿ مُحۡصَنَـٰتٍ

(they should be chaste) means, they are honorable women who do not commit adultery, and this is why Allah said,

﴿ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحَـٰتٍ۬

(not fornicators) referring to dishonorable women, who do not refrain from illicit sexual relations with those who ask. Ibn `Abbas said that the fornicating women are the whores, who do not object to having relations with whomever seeks it, while,

﴿ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَٲتِ أَخۡدَانٍ۬‌ۚ

(nor promiscuous. ) refers to taking boyfriends. Similar was said by Abu Hurayrah, Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi, Ad-Dahhak, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Yahya bin Abi Kathir, Muqatil bin Hayyan and As-Suddi.

The Slave Girl's Punishment for Adultery is Half that of a Free Unmarried Woman

Allah said,

﴿ فَإِذَآ أُحۡصِنَّ فَإِنۡ أَتَيۡنَ بِفَـٰحِشَةٍ۬ فَعَلَيۡہِنَّ نِصۡفُ مَا عَلَى ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ‌ۚ

(And after they have been taken in wedlock, if they commit Fahishah, their punishment is half of that for free (unmarried) women.) this is about the slave women who got married, as indicated by the Ayah;

﴿ وَمَن لَّمۡ يَسۡتَطِعۡ مِنكُمۡ طَوۡلاً أَن يَنڪِحَ ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ فَمِن مَّا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـٰتِكُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ‌ۚ

(And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess,) Therefore, since the honorable Ayah is about believing slave girls, then,

﴿ فَإِذَآ أُحۡصِنَّ

(And after they have been taken in wedlock,) refers to when they (believing slave girls) get married, as Ibn `Abbas and others have said. Allah's statement,

﴿ نِصۡفُ مَا عَلَى ٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ‌ۚ

(their punishment is half of that for free (unmarried) women.) indicates that the type of punishment prescribed here is the one that can be reduced to half, lashes in this case, not stoning to death, and Allah knows best. Allah's statement,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَنۡ خَشِىَ ٱلۡعَنَتَ مِنكُمۡ‌ۚ

(This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body;) indicates that marrying slave girls, providing one satisfies the required conditions, is for those who fear for their chastity and find it hard to be patient and refrain from sex. In this difficult circumstance, one is allowed to marry a slave girl. However, it is better to refrain from marrying slave girls and to observe patience, for otherwise, the offspring will become slaves to the girl's master. Allah said,

﴿ وَأَن تَصۡبِرُواْ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)

﴿ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَكُمۡ وَيَہۡدِيَڪُمۡ سُنَنَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ وَيَتُوبَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ۬ وَٱللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ وَيُرِيدُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ ٱلشَّہَوَٲتِ أَن تَمِيلُواْ مَيۡلاً عَظِيمً۬ا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمۡ‌ۚ وَخُلِقَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ ضَعِيفً۬ا

(26. Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance, and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.) (27. Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away (from the right path)) (28. Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak. ) Allah explains to the believers what He has allowed and prohibited for them in this and other Surahs,

﴿ وَيَہۡدِيَڪُمۡ سُنَنَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ

(And to show you the ways of those before you,) meaning their righteous ways and how to adhere to the commandments that He likes and is pleased with.

﴿ وَيَتُوبَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۗ

(and accept your repentance) from sin and error,

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ۬

(and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.) in His commands, decrees, actions and statements. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَيُرِيدُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ ٱلشَّہَوَٲتِ أَن تَمِيلُواْ مَيۡلاً عَظِيمً۬ا

(but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the right path)) indicates that the followers of Shaytan among the Jews, Christians and the adulterous, wish that you would take the horrendous path of falsehood instead of the truth.

﴿ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمۡ‌ۚ

(Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you'') His legislation, orders, what He prohibits and what He decrees for you. This is why Allah has allowed free men to marry slave girls under certain conditions, as Mujahid and others have stated.

﴿ وَخُلِقَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ ضَعِيفً۬ا

(and man was created weak.) and this is why it is suitable in his case that the commands are made easy for him, because of his weakness and feebleness. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Tawus said that,

﴿ وَخُلِقَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ ضَعِيفً۬ا

(and man was created weak), "Concerning women''. Waki` said, "Man's mind leaves when women are involved.''

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَأۡڪُلُوٓاْ أَمۡوَٲلَكُم بَيۡنَڪُم بِٱلۡبَـٰطِلِ إِلَّآ أَن تَكُونَ تِجَـٰرَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ۬ مِّنكُمۡ‌ۚ وَلَا تَقۡتُلُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمۡ رَحِيمً۬ا وَمَن يَفۡعَلۡ ذَٲلِكَ عُدۡوَٲنً۬ا وَظُلۡمً۬ا فَسَوۡفَ نُصۡلِيهِ نَارً۬ا‌ۚ وَڪَانَ ذَٲلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرًا إِن تَجۡتَنِبُواْ ڪَبَآٮِٕرَ مَا تُنۡہَوۡنَ عَنۡهُ نُكَفِّرۡ عَنكُمۡ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمۡ وَنُدۡخِلۡڪُم مُّدۡخَلاً۬ كَرِيمً۬ا

(29. O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.) (30. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah.) (31. If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise).)