Lessons from Holy Qur'an

Number Of Marriages Which Are Allowed


Number Of Marriages Which Are Allowed 

Surah NISAAA’  (WOMEN) – Chapter – 4)

Verse – 3 of 176, Section –1/24 (Part – 4)


And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice. 

Wa  ‘in  khiftum  ‘allaa  tuq-situu  fil-yataamaa  fan-kihuu  maa  taaba  lakum-minan-nisaaa-‘i  masnaa  wa  sulaasa  wa  rubaa’.  Fa-‘in  khiftum  ‘allaa  ta’-diluu  fawaa-hidatan  ‘aw  maa  malakat  ‘aymaanukum.  Zaalika  ‘adnaaa  ‘allaa  ta-‘uu-luu.




‘aymaanun  – (right hands), it is plural of yamiin which means ‘the right hand’. Whenever any person catches any thing, he catches it usually with his right hand. Therefore, to disclose complete grip of the hand (possession) upon anything, it is said in Arabic idioms, “His right hand is Master of that thing.” That is to say, “he has complete and strong hold on it, for example slave and maid etc.


In this part of the verse, special attention has been drawn towards the orphans because there is none ordinarily to care for them. They can be victim of tyranny by any cruel person easily. If you marry the orphan girls, that should not be for the purpose of desire, greed and to take possession of wealth, but that should be only for their interest and benefit. And if it is difficult to escape from these uncomely affairs, then let the orphan girls remain in their own circumstances and marry some other woman. And if you wish, you can marry who seem good to you, two or three or four. In this case, you have to be more careful to do justice between them. If you cannot do justice to so many wives then marry one only or the maid (captive) that your right hands possess, sustain upon her only. That is nearer to justice.


It is important to understand particularly two or three matters in connection with this verse:


  1. Firstly, if you fear that you will not deal fairly by the orphan girls then do not marry them. However, you can marry even four other women.


  1. Secondly, fundamental condition for marrying more than one is that you would have to establish justice between the wives (which is a very much difficult matter to do so as it has been described at another place also in this chapter).


  1. Thirdly, if you have fear that you would not be able to do justice and equality between the wives then you should be satisfied with the captive woman only.


It means that the matrimony more than one is not open and common but that is bound with the condition of justice.



Transliterated Holy Qur’an in Roman Script & Translated from Arabic to English by Marmaduke Pickthall, Published by Paak Company, 17-Urdu Bazar, Lahore, Lesson collected from Dars e Qur’an published By Idara Islah wa Tableegh, Lahore (translated Urdu to English  by Muhammad Sharif).

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