Ayatollah Sanie’i: Polygamy without Consent of First Wife is not Permissible in Islam

Saturday 31 May 2008

Norooz: The Grand Ayatollah Sanieii has stated that: "taking on a second wife without the consent of the first wife is in my opinion Haram (not permissible in Islam) and a sin, and with respect to Sharia considered to be a crime. If the first wife does not provide consent, and the marriage to the second wife has already taken place, the second marriage is to be considered illegal [according to Islamic law]." In an interview with a German Radio the Grand Ayatollah added the following: "the second marriage of a man [while he is still married to his first wife] without the consent of the first wife is in opposition to the concepts of goodness and wisdom and the concept of justice which the Qoran sets as a precondition to polygamy."

While expressing dissatisfaction with legislation presented to Parliament, calling for an easing of conditions for the practice of polygamy which would allow men to take on second wives without first obtaining the consent of theirs first wife, this spiritual leader added: "I hope that such a law is not passed by the members of the Islamic Parliament and I pray that such proposals which I view as unjust and cruel toward women do not get adopted as law." Sanie’i added further "that while I am not opposed to polygamy I am opposed to cruelty against women. While the issue of polygamy was in certain times and in certain cultures customary and accepted by all including women, today this issue is a subject of concern for women and causes them harm, therefore it should be practiced only with the consent of the first wife. In essence polygamy is the domain of the woman and practicable only based on her consent and this condition allows for justice and fairness."

Ayatollah Sanei’i went further to explain that "such issues should not be dealt with through the adoption of laws rather they should be dealt with within the family, and through the consent of the first wife. "God forbid that the Parliament with the passage of such laws, adds to social problems and more specifically to the many existing problems which women face," he commented.

In response to a question regarding the status of women in Islam, and if according to Islam men and women benefit from equal rights, why have there been no women prophets or saints, Sanei’i replied by stating: "the law [Islamic law] in its totality has proven equality of rights. If there is a problem here, it is related to cultural beliefs of society not [Islamic] law. How can we expect the prophet to identify and appoint a woman as the leader of society, which customarily practices female infanticide, by burying young girls while they are still alive? The society of that time was not equipped to accept such a development [female leadership]. In the same way, today some in our society, despite all the developments and advancements don’t have the capacity to accept and tolerate certain perspectives and viewpoints."

Translated By: Sussan Tahmasebi


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