Question: Does a Muslim man require explicit consent from his first wife, to marry a second woman?

Answer: In Islam, marriage is a solemn contract for which the Islamic Shari’ah has laid down rules and measures to guarantee its stability. Though Islam permits a man to have more than one wife, it stipulates that certain conditions are to be met in this regard, for Islam’s main focus is on building a stable marital life.

If a man is able to take a second wife, and can treat both wives in a just manner, and he wants to, then he is allowed to do so as Allah says,

“… marry women of your choice two or three or four; but if you fear that you will not be just, then (marry only) one …”

There is no evidence in the Qur’an and the authentic traditions of the prophet (pbuh), which states that it is obligatory for the husband to have the explicit consent of his first wife, if he wants to take a second wife.

However, he should inform his first wife about his intention. It is preferable to convince her about his decision but it is not compulsory to take her consent.

But if the wife has stipulated a condition in the marriage contract, that her husband is not allowed to take another wife as long as she is married to him, then the husband should adhere to the condition and is obliged to take her permission before taking another wife.

The conditions of marriage are the most binding of conditions and are the most important before Allah, because through them intimacy becomes permissible. 

Narrated ‘Uqba: The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: “The conditions most entitled to be abided are those of (wedding contract) with which intimacy becomes permissible to you.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.7 Hadith No.5151]

Therefore in the light of the above, it’s clear that the first wife’s consent is not a prerequisite for a man to take another wife unless she specifies the above condition in her marriage contract.

And Allah knows the best.