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Can a Man Marry Another Woman without Divorcing his First Wife?


Question

If a man who is a Muslim has been apart from his wife for three months, and is seeking a divorce, and living with a woman he cares for, is he able to have sexual relations with this woman, or demonstrate any affection? Or must he wait until the divorce is final.

I have lost my husband, and this man has been in my life for three years now, on and off, and is seeking a divorce. Although we were sexually active and demonstrated affection for each other, he now feels it is wrong to do so, until the divorce.

Could you tell me if this is the Muslim Law?

Thank you for your kind answer.



Question from United States of America
Answer

As a principle, a man may get married to another woman even before the initiation of divorce with his first wife or even without a plan to divorce his first wife. This is so because Islam does not disallow a man to keep more than one wives. However, this second marriage should not be against the law of the land in which the couple is residing. If the law of the land prohibits a second wife, a Muslim must not take a second wife, even though such marriage has not been prohibited by the Islamic Shari`ah.

Furthermore, it should be clearly understood that according to the directives of Islam, it is not the finalization of divorce with the man's first wife that stands between his sexual relations with another woman; on the contrary, it is actually the lack of a socially recognized relationship between the man and the other woman that hinders such (i.e. sexual) relations. In other words, according to the directives of Islam, a man cannot have sexual relations with a woman out of wedlock.

Thus, according to Islam, a man may have sexual relations with another woman, even before the finalization of divorce with his first wife, provided that the 'another woman' is also a lawfully wedded wife of the man. On the other hand, a man cannot establish sexual relations with another woman even after the finalization of divorce with his first wife, if that 'another woman' is not a lawfully wedded wife of the man. The deciding factor, as should be clear is not the divorce with the first wife, but the prescribed relationship with the second.

12th February 2000


Answer published by Moiz Amjad