Is the institution of marriage large enough for multiple wives?

'Marriage is like a fort. Those who are in want out, those who are out want in," says an Arabic proverb.

My ideas on marriage and my self-proclaimed tolerance and respect for people's choices in life were tested last month upon hearing of an upcoming wedding in the family.

"What?" was my immediate reaction when my cousin announced that a relative was getting married.

He was taking a second wife, and through the grapevine we heard that it was actually his first wife's idea.

Wanting to find out the full story for myself, I called up the first wife and had a heart-to-heart discussion.

"Well, they say there are seven women to one man in Lebanon, so I am helping out with the statistics," she joked, trying to defuse some of the tension.

This silly statistic, I quickly pointed out, was totally baseless, quoted and re-quoted in the media after a single commentator pulled it out of a hat. It was such a ridiculous claim, I had personally chased up the story to debunk it.

But before this first wife is neatly boxed as a stereotypical docile Arab wife, it should be known that she is a professor and a woman of the world. She isn't being forced into anything and isn't afraid of what "people" will say.

It is less common these days for Lebanese men to have multiple wives, and so sometimes the community gangs up on those who decide to marry again.

"You cannot forbid what Allah allowed," she reminded me. In Islam, up to four wives are allowed, but only if certain conditions are met.

One of the most important is that the husband must be just and fair, and treat each of his wives equally. According to the Quran: "But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly [with them], then only one." (al Nisa' 4:3) In this woman's case, she can't have any children, and she doesn't want to deprive her husband. A barren wife is also one of the factors considered in religious law.

Generally, a discussion on multiple wives stirs controversy in the West, not the Muslim world. Almost on a daily basis, there are TV dramas on local and regional channels revolving around families where there is more than one wife and half-brothers and sisters. Sometimes these shows are comedies, like the popular Haj Metwali, anEgyptian series where the husband keeps his four wives on different floors of the same building and we follow the jealousy and dramas between them.

Others use comedy to portray the seriousness of the issue, like in one of the Ramadan episodes of the Saudi series Tash Ma Tash. Just the title of the episode, Taadud al Azwaj, or "Multiple Husbands", upset religious figures because Muslim women are not allowed to have more than one husband on the grounds that her children's lineage will be lost.

The story follows a Saudi woman with four husbands who wants to divorce one so she can marry a fifth. By describing the shallow reasons for her marriages, the show focused not only on jealousy, but how wives must suffer when men abuse this matrimonial rule.

Of course, it is not always the case. I have several friends from the Gulf who grew up with more than one mother in a loving, tight-knit family. There are always arguments for and against in matters of relationships, but it should be up to the individual and not society to judge.

On a related note, there was a recent article in a Saudi newspaper condoning "work marriages", a new form of temporary marriage. It singled out the medical field, where doctors get married "instead of committing a sin" when an attraction forms after long hours worked together. Depending on the doctrine, there are different thoughts on temporary marriages, generally called Mutaa marriage by Shiites and Misyar by Sunnis.

Given all this confusion about marriage in one form or another, I think I have made my decision. For the time being, I'd rather remain outside the fort as an observer.


Director: Neill Blomkamp

Stars: David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Darren Barnet

Rating: 3/5

The years Ramadan fell in May





Company Profile

Name: Raha
Started: 2022
Based: Kuwait/Saudi
Industry: Tech Logistics
Funding: $14 million
Investors: Soor Capital, eWTP Arabia Capital, Aujan Enterprises, Nox Management, Cedar Mundi Ventures
Number of employees: 166

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1

Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Stars: Pedro Pascal and Katee Sackhoff

Rating: 4/5 


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

If you go

The flights

Fly direct to London from the UAE with Etihad, Emirates, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from about Dh2,500 return including taxes. 

The hotel

Rooms at the convenient and art-conscious Andaz London Liverpool Street cost from £167 (Dh800) per night including taxes.

The tour

The Shoreditch Street Art Tour costs from £15 (Dh73) per person for approximately three hours. 

What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

10 Concept artists, 25 3D designers

New sound technology, named 4D SRL


All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

Company profile:


Started: January 2018

Founder(s): Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini

Based: Dubai

Sector: FinTech, micro finance

Initial investment: $1 million

Mobile phone packages comparison

Duterte Harry: Fire and Fury in the Philippines
Jonathan Miller, Scribe Publications


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

How to help

Donate towards food and a flight by transferring money to this registered charity's account.

Account name: Dar Al Ber Society

Account Number: 11 530 734

IBAN: AE 9805 000 000 000 11 530 734

Bank Name: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

To ensure that your contribution reaches these people, please send the copy of deposit/transfer receipt to:

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5


Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8


Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded