Q. Is it permissible for a man to marry a second and third wife only for the sake of fulfilling his sexual desires?
A. It is permissible for a man to marry another wife even if it is only for the sake of his sexual desires just as it is permissible to get married to one woman for the sake of sexual desire. All men marry primarily for this reason. The other aspects, e.g. procreation, caring for the women, etc., are by-products. Despite their fundamental importance, it is furthest from the minds of men when they marry. Only those with exceptionally high Taqwa have the other factors of altruism in mind.
Q. What kind of reward can a first wife expect for restraining from acting upon the dictates of one’s natural jealousy towards here husband’s other wives?
A. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Verily, Allah has decreed for women (the reward of restraining) envy, and for men the reward of (fortitude) in Jihad. Therefore, the woman who adopts Sabr when her husband marries another woman will obtain the reward of a Shaheed (Martyr).”
The attitude of jealousy is deeply ingrained in the nafs of a woman. The idea of her husband taking a second wife is intolerable to her. In fact if she lacks proper knowledge of the Shariah, she destroys her Imaan with utterances and attitudes of kufr should her husband marry a second wife. Allah Ta’ala is the Creator of both man and woman. He understands the natures of His creation. By design has He created in woman an incorrigible degree of hasad (jealousy). This world is the abode of struggle and self-purification. There will be no opportunity for self-purification and moral reformation in the Hereafter or in Jannat. The only abode of purification in the Aakhirah is Jahannum (Hell-Fire). Allah Ta’ala has bestowed to us the wonderful opportunity of this brief earthly life for self-purification and reformation. This process requires constant and diligent struggle against the promptings and demands of the bestial nafs.
For women, Allah Ta’ala has ordained an easy way for the acquisition of the lofty ranks of shahaadat (martyrdom). She has to exercise Sabr, struggle and restrain her nafs by refusing to fulfil the dictates of her jealousy, especially when her husband takes another wife. While the generation of envy is natural, and for which there is no sin, giving vent to the demands of the evil tendency of hasad is not permitted. She is required to apply pressure on her nafs, restrain the dictates of the nafs and compel herself to accept the situation, and conceal the flames of hasad which will consume and ruin her if she submits to the envy. This is the way of martyrdom ordained by Allah Ta’ala for females. In fact, the Shariah has simplified the acquisition of martyrdom status for women. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“A woman attains the rank of martyrdom with her engrossment in her household activities.”