Vision 2030 and multiple wives

Vision 2030 and multiple wives

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

With the announcement of Vision 2030, a new age has dawned on the Saudi social scene. As economic austerity begins to grab hold and restrain us from wild splurges, so does it arrest the inclinations of some Don Juans to take on multiple wives.

Until recently, it had become fashionable of late for middle-aged men in this part of the world to seek younger brides, while they were already married. In Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Gulf, it was not unusual for such men to chat about this prospect at their weekly diwaniyas or men-only clubs.

Fatwas or edicts issued on the matter by clerics encouraged this rapidly growing phenomenon. And to make matters simpler, fatwas identified several forms of marriage as perfectly acceptable within the boundaries of Islam. There was the misyar marriage, the weekend marriage and the friendship marriage. And more derivatives were being creatively added to this growing list. And by men!
At the time, I questioned whether such edicts served the national interest and wondered if our clerics should not pause to reflect on the effects of such righteous proclamations on our Muslim society. And our societies in the region are indeed fragile today as the Middle East is challenged by wars and threats of Islamophobia.

While Islam does indeed permit polygamy, the conditions are so restricted and severe that it is practically impossible for anyone today to adhere to them strictly. And while our religion sanctions such unions, it does not treat the matter frivolously. There must be clearly justifiable reasons, such as if the first wife is unable to bear her husband children or is averse to any physical advances by her husband.

Furthermore, equality in all matters is demanded when considering another partner, and while allowances are made for matters of the heart, in just about every other aspect one is required to demonstrate total parity. And in today’s times, that is easier said than done.

Stable family units become fragmented when men in the prime of their economic earning power and affluence decide to forsake their partners of 20 years or more who have borne them three or four children for younger and sleeker spouses. In most cases that I know of, most men decided against divorcing their first wives and instead chose to open new homes to house their latest ornament.

Often at the cost of seriously neglecting the first wife and the children, these men take to water like fish, seeking comfort in their new relationships, many of which carry preconditions of no more children. It is the women entering such unions who invariably pay a heavy price. Their rights are usurped subtly as they discover they are not much more than a pleasant pastime.

The dynamics that lead women to consider such unions are varied. In a strict Arab society, women’s roles often take a back seat to men. Without a man, any man, in her life, a woman feels vulnerable. Then there is the fear of spinsterhood, or the freedom from a very authoritarian father. And in spite of premarital agreements, the desire to bear children remains an unspoken desire burning within, and the woman feels that she may eventually get her way.

It would be interesting to note the findings of a social scientist were he or she to tabulate the growth trend of such marriages since Vision 2030 was announced. From a layman’s point of view, I can only surmise that the less one has to play with, the less one tends to party.

The author can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


  1. There are enough religious, social and economic reasons to de-legitimate the four wives system. Many people also marry first and second cousins and that has been scientifically proven to cause birth defects and other development-impeding problems.
    Banning such practices are Islamic, economically imperative and most importantly, fairness and humane treatment of women who have no divine or legal power to object to multiple marriages or get rid of indulgent husbands.

    • Ali,
      Who do you think you are to delegitimize, what Allah has permitted in the Quran,
      Anyone who feels it can be changed will end up in “KUFR”.
      Allah is the legislator and what He has allowed is until the end of time.
      You talk of what Allah has allowed, while you do not say anything about the different types of ‘haram’ marriage being practiced in Saudi/Gulf..

  2. The wellbeing of the society hinges on happiness of its members. No woman will be ever happy to share her bed with another woman, due to their economic dependence they have put up with it, it’s indeed oppression, the least we can do as Muslims is speak up against such oppression and taking advantage of women.

    You have cited reasons for allowance of polygamy, it’s time those allowance to be enacted into laws of the nation, after all the original intent of sharia was to serve justice and not authorize oppression..

    Despite the rights to freedom in democracies, monogamy is rule. Muslim nations can retain polygamy but all other dealings have to be in writing, free will and serving sincere justice to women.

    That’s when prophet Muhammad’s dream to create a cohesive society will be realized.

  3. Stick to your field.
    Where the social and economic situations harder now or in the time of the prophet salla Allaahu aleihi wa sallam??? Back then ofcourse, and they practised polygyny in a large scale!

  4. Very interesting overview…I remember reading about a culture where women took more than one husband in a Polynesian culture and wondered why…then when I got older and read that in the Middle East, men are allowed four wives, I wondered why they would subject themselves to the pressure and distraction of that…Now that I am at this point in my life and have had time to learn and hopefully grow, it seems that to pass judgement on ways that are different is a total waste of time…what matters is what is within one’s heart and soul and the purity of intent!.

  5. Yes Tariq multiple wives is an important topic must be addressed in Vision 2030. Did any one bothered to ask Saudi women their own opinion, perhaps their own vision of 2030.

  6. “Among those who approve misyar is prominent Saudi scholar Shaikh Abdullah Bin Sulaiman Bin Menie. A member of the Supreme Ulema Council, Shaikh Menie says misyar is legal since it meets the requirements for a lawful marriage under Islam.”
    I find he is a bit of a controversial “scholar”
    This is his DALEEL or proofs:
    “He cited the case of Al Sayida Souda, one of the wives of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), who agreed to give up her right of having the Prophet spend every alternate night with her in favour of the Prophet’s other wife, Al Sayida Aisha.” THIS CANNOT. BE GIVEN AS A RULING PERMITTING
    MISYAR MARRIAGE. In any case where one has multiple wives, they have made this type of
    adjustment. During the time of our first three generations there was nothing called MISYAR !
    During the Prophet SALLALLAHU ALAIHI wa SALLAMS time ,there was MUTAH, which,too was
    prohibited for all time after the Conquest of Makkah.
    If anyone want to indulge in this type of marriage, please do, but do not try to justify it in the name of Islam. Strangely this is only practiced among the Arabs! How come?

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