Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Husband’s family doesn’t know we got married.

Keeping secrets

Assalamu Alaykum Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

I got married to my Arab husband in 2011 in my country. I met him back in 2005 when I used to work in the middle east. We stayed friends until I finally decided to stay in my home country for good. He followed me there and he married me. We have a daughter, and he used to visit us only every 6 to 8 months of the year. He provides for us financially and he never misses to call me and keep in touch with me.

The problem that I am getting confused at is his family, and his first wife doesn't know about him having us as his second family. Is our marriage considered a secret marriage? I have all the legal papers of our marriage contract, and it even has a stamp and seal from his country's embassy, so do I have the right to claim our child rights over him? I mean like a passport, and some other benefits a normal child in his country get?

Please help me and please enlighten me.

Jazakallah khair,


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22 Responses »

  1. السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

    Ukhti, you have to realise that becoming a second wife is not easy. Of course all the hassles aside there is a big responsibility on your husband's shoulders to bear.

    If your husband's first wife comes from a family where the expectant custom is monogamy, then your husband has violated Islamic Law. In Islam a man is bound to the conditions of his marriage contract. If his first wife stipulates in the contract that he must not take a second wife then he is obliged by the condition. He would have no right to a second marriage because as the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said that "The rights decided by the conditions (Hadith - Abu Dawud and AI-Hakim on the authority of Abi hurairah, Sahih Al- Jami AI-Sayhir, (No. 6714)). In other words his rights would be overruled by the no-polygamy condition in the marriage contract.

    Even if a wife has not explicitly stated the condition, he is still bound to it. Because in Islamic Contract Law we have a principle stating that "What is known by custom is the same as what is explicitly stated as a condition". Ibn Al Qayyim discusses this principle at length in Ilam al Muwaqiin where he discusses why the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم prohibited his son-in-law Ali from marrying a second wife while his daughter Fatima was alive.

    So if the custom in the your husband's first wife's family was monogamy, then your husband is bound to the condition.


    This principle also works the other way around, for example if it is the custom in the man's family for wives to do the housework, then women are bound to that custom because Customs are the same as explicitly stated conditions in Islamic Contracts. See:

    • wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I'm not seeing how you got from this:
      "The rights decided by the conditions" (Hadith - Abu Dawud and AI-Hakim on the authority of Abi hurairah, Sahih Al- Jami AI-Sayhir, (No. 6714)).

      to this:
      In other words his rights would be overruled by the no-polygamy condition in the marriage contract.

      A society in which the norm is polygamy does not mean he is obliged to remain monogamous.

      Also, the first hadith, at least the English rendition you have chosen, is grammatically incorrect. What on earth does "The rights decided by the conditions" mean? That's a phrase, not a sentence.

      • You need to be careful about letting your biases enter peoples lives and make their lives difficult.
        The first wife’s approval is not a condition for marrying a second wife

        Question: My question is if you would help me to know the Hadith or the point of vieuw from the Islamic law on the follwing situation.
        If a woman is married to a man and that this man is also married to an other woman without her, the last, knows about this marriage.
        No need to say that this is a difficult and very exceptional situation but seems the best concerning the circumstances?

        Answer: Praise be to Allaah.

        The wife’s approval is not a condition for plural marriage, and it is not obligatory for the husband to have the approval of his first wife if he wants to marry a second wife. But it is good manners and kind treatment to approach the issue in such a way as to reduce the pain which women naturally feel in such cases, by smiling at her, greeting her warmly, speaking nicely to her and spending money on her according to his means, in order to gain her approval. Fataawa Islamiyyah, 3/204.

        If a husband takes a second wife, he has to treat his wives equally as far as possible. If he does not treat them equally then he is exposing himself to a stern warning, for it was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever has two wives and inclines more towards one of them than the other, will come on the Day of Resurrection with half of his body leaning.” (narrated by al-Nisaa’i, ‘Ushrat al-Nisaa’, 3881; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Nasaa’i, no. 3682).

        When Allaah permitted us to marry more than one woman, He said (interpretation of the meaning):

        “but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice”[al-Nisaa’ 4:3]

        So Allaah commands that a man should restrict himself to one wife, if he knows that he cannot be just. And Allaah is the source of strength.

        See Fataawa Manaar al-Islam, 2/570.

        • السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته


          This is called a half-truth.

          We have general background rules in Shariah and we have contract rules.

          For instance the general law under Shariah is that a stepfather is not financially responsible for the stepchildren. Source:

          However if a woman stipulates in the marriage contract that her new husband must take care of her children from her previous marriage then the husband is obliged by the condition to do so.

          An aspect of Islamic Law called Urf (customs) is present here. We have a principle in Islamic Contract Law that states "What is known by custom is the same as what is explicitly stated as a condition".

          So if the custom in the particular society is that the stepfather must provide for the stepchildren then that custom is considered an automatic condition under Islamic Law. Source:

          Another example of a background Islamic rule is that women are not required to serve the husband (in matters like household chores) but a man may stipulate the condition that his wife must do household chores. And where the custom is that the wife does the housework, then that is considered an automatic condition in her marriage contract. Source:

          ‘Urf (custom)

          General contracts – including marriage contracts – should be governed by the customs that are known among the people, and the custom is that the wife should serve her husband and also take care of matters in the home. In some societies, the custom is that the wife should take care of more than the regular domestic matters.

          Imaam al-Qurtubi said, concerning the matter of the wife serving her husband and taking care of the home: “This has to do with ‘Urf, which is one of the bases of sharee’ah. The women of the Bedouin and the desert-dwellers serve their husbands, even looking for fresh water and taking care of the animals…”

          Quite similarly, the background Islamic rule is that the first wife's permission is not required for a second marriage. But a woman may stipulate in her marriage contract that her husband must not take a second wife.

          And due to the role of Urf (customs) in Shariah, if the custom is monogamy in the first wife's family then that custom is considered an automatic condition in the marriage contract which the husband is obliged to fulfill. Ibn Qayyim discussed this fact in I`lâm al-Muwaqqi`in where he clarified the case of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم prohibiting `Alî from taking a second wife while being married to his daughter Fatima.

        • it is not permission to be needed..but if you are willing to destroy one marriage to gain another and not consider your wife's feelings..then she should divorce you.

          • Just because a man has the right to marry more than woman, doesn't mean he should--especially given the conditions of the relationship of these individuals prior to marriage--he should have gone to her Wali and asked for her hand, then their Nikah ceremony would be public, not a hidden secret.

            Spending time with his second wife every 6 to 8 months hardly seems fair at all and equitable.

            Seems to me that if I have the right to proceed on a green light, doesn't mean I wouldn't act with caution if I saw a pedestrian crossing--I wouldn't want to continue and then hit them, because it is my RIGHT to go at a green light. In the same way, just because this man has the right and means to marry doesn't mean he should if he is unable to handle the delicate emotions of his wives. On one hand we say that women are emotional and delicate and on the other end, we don't understand when they are hurt in such a situation. The Prophet, pbuh, NEVEr had any secret marriage. In the end, the first sister will be hurt deeply when the secret is revealed and the 2nd sister will be fighting for her rights (according to what she said). At least if we say that polygamy is halal, we should be willing to point out when it is being abused.

            So if a man can marry 1, 2, 3 or 4 women--he should be extremely careful and not be unjust.

            May Allah guide us on the straight path, Ameen.

      • السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

        Sorry, the correct version of the Hadith is "The rights are decided by the conditions" (Hadith - Abu Dawud and AI-Hakim on the authority of Abi hurairah, Sahih Al- Jami AI-Sayhir, (No. 6714)).

        That was Rasulallah صلى الله عليه و سلم 's Hadith.

        Now this is Umar (ra)'s Hadith.

        During the time of 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a man married a woman upon the condition that he would not move her from his house. The time came when he wanted to move her. They took their dispute to 'Umar and he said: "She has the right to her stipulation." The man said, "In that case, they will certainly end the marriage." He said, "The rights are broken off due to the stipulations."

  2. Dear Sister,

    When a marriage takes place , its not just between two people but two families. I guess, both of you did not realize its gravity.

    May you have a legal marriage but it would be not easy for the families to accept it that easy.

    i cant advice you about your/kids rights, that you have to check personally as per rules of marriage contract/country you belong to.

    What i am concerned over is about the child. she must be small/too young hence does not feel why her father is around for a limited time, why she does not have any grandparents, aunts etc- a complete family but when she will grow, these things will definitely effect her emotionally. she might have hatred towards you or her father for marrying such way. I am not saying this to afraid you but i have seen such thing around. How such marriage sometimes spoil lives of many. please give best upbringing to your daughter. love her a lot. she should not miss her father too often.

    Rather than just being confused about his family/first wife, you should discuss with your husband about it. if he has shared about his second marriage with his family / first wife and if they are open to you, then you can be sure of things and can even visit the family but dont be in haste. Keep your daughter in mind, whenever you have to take a decision.

    i wish you good luck.

  3. assalamu alaikum sister,

    i will say that you have gotten yourself in a piffy...i really sometimes dont think that polygamy is even useful today as it was over 1400 years ago..alot of times men dont do it for good will or to strengthen like our prophet swt did...they just do it for ego and sexual desires while ignoring the big responsibilty that comes with it and instead try to cut corners...

    i have seen more families broken up or the women unhappy or the children going without because of it. also, if you are not in an islamic country it is against the law...

    i am a second wife and to be honest looking back i would have not done this..and alot of women share my opinion..there are TOO many single men out here to have the heartache and getting less and your children get less.

    also you are a secret..that is not islamic. he just want something on the side but doesnt want to face up to his wife because he knows she will probably divorce him.To me when you have to hide it you are cheating and its your concience telling you its wrong.

    sister, how do you know that he is treating you fair when you dont even see what or arent even acknowledged?

  4. Assalam alaikum,

    Sister, from the sounds of it, it seems that your husband has created a situation so that if he needs to forget you and move on, he can. I say that because he has not made your rights accessible (based on your statement) especially regarding child support--in a way this is not surprising--because he has kept your relationship secret and as far as I know, marriage cannot be secret in Islam. The whole point is to publicly announce the Nikah between two people so that it is clear what their relationship is.

    It would help to know what country you and your husband live in--depending on the countries (I assume they are different), you could be advised accordingly.

    Also, what is your husband's response to your questions?

    You may be limited in what you can do legally--and if you are, it would help to know your husband's thoughts on why he is not disclosing this information to his family.

  5. AsSalaamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh Sister,

    Let me first say congratulations on your marriage. It's two years late, but- mabrouk. May Allah bless your marriage and make the future for you, your daughter, your husband, and both your families bright, happy, and peaceful.

    Regarding your first question, Sister, "Is our marriage considered a secret marriage?"

    I think, yes. It is secret because his first wife and family do not know about you; however, the courts allowed it because it is permissible in Islam. I always thought there was some restriction on the amount of time it could be kept secret, but perhaps that is something negotiated between suitor, wali (the woman's guardian), and the woman. I welcome comment and correction from other posters.

    Your second question; "so do I have the right to claim our child rights over him? I mean like a passport, and some other benefits a normal child in his country get?"

    I think, yes. It sounds like everything about your marriage is valid and recognized by the courts in your husband's country, and more importantly Islam. I think the place to get concrete answers on legal papers, status, etc., would be your husband's country's embassy (or some such place).

    Sister, you didn't express any distress. You said you are confused, and mentioned legal issues only. Out of respect for you and your family I am assuming the best and hoping for the best for you all, Insha'Allah. If you do have any other questions, please, do ask.


  6. Its such a shame. More and more people are under the misconception that just because the first wife’s permission to do second marriage is not a part of Islamic law, they think its okay for a man just to get another wife.

    Islamically speaking Muslims are bound by the terms of the marriage contract. And any conditions put in it by the wife (like not getting a second wife, not moving woman away from her family). And we have this principle in fiqh, in Islamic contract law, that is ‘What is known by custom is the same as what is explicitly stated as a condition’

    And due to the role of Urf (customs), which is the fifth asl of fiqh, these conditions also apply automatically (by default) in marriage contracts in a society where monogamy is the expectant norm, even if the condition is not explicitly stated by the wife in the marriage contract.

    واٍلی هذا ذهب الامام أحمد ورجحه این تیمیة واین القیم وذهبوا کذ لک إٍلی أن الشرط عٍکن أن یکون لفظیا، وفی بعض الأحوال عٍکن أٌن یکون عرفیأ ، أٍذا جاءت الفتاهٔ من أّسرة یٌعرف عنها أٌنها لاتقبل أٌن یتزومج أٌن علیها زوجها
    انتی کلام

    This is the opinion of Imam Ahmed, founder of the Hanbali school and is further preferred by Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn-Al-Qayyim. They also allowed the condition to be verbal (not necessarily written) or if it is the norm (urf) for the girl's family, i.e. if the girl's family is known to oppose having another wife next to their daughter. (Fiqh Al Sunnah, Volume 6, Page 231-232)

    • AsSalaamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wa Barakaaatuh Sister,

      To stay within the bounds of your own argument, Sister, we know neither the terms of contract in the first marriage, nor the country or custom of the second. I don't see why we cannot simply answer her stated questions. Or is your decided position that this marriage is invalid or illegal? In that case she can know that she can get no help from you on her legal questions regarding the child. That is fair.

      • my apologies, I meant that we do not know the country or custom of first or second marriage.

      • Assalam alaikum Sister,

        Often people get a lot of information/feedback to their question even if it goes beyond answering the question.--as we often see with gf/bf questions--and there may be a good reason for it.

        With respect to this question, though the OP hasn't made the question regarding her 2nd marriage, it still seems like a very unfair situation with the time she has with her husband and the fact that her husband was willing to exercise his rights to marry more than one woman, but not make her rights clear to her? Perhaps people who hold an opinion similar to sister Ruqayya_25, just want to make it clear in that we shouldn't exercise the rules of Islam to convenience ourselves, but then disadvantage our loved ones for their rights. I suppose it is a matter of not condoning these "secret" marriages. Interestingly, are there secret marriages in Islam? I am sure we all know the answer to this.

        Usually these types of marriages put women in vulnerable situations and can allow some men to walk away from such marriages. A friend in the community I live in became the 2nd wife of a fellow in the community and about 6 to 7 months, he ended the relationship by not stating anything. He didn't say talaq, he just stopped visiting her after work (he never stayed over night as the 1st wife would be suspicious).

        I only bring this example because Islam is a perfect religion which protects women's rights--so how do secret marriages benefit any woman? Yes, this man is providing financially, but until when? The fact he is hiding this information from his family makes me wonder if he plans on eventually cutting ties when it is convenient--I certainly wouldn't want to see this sister or any other sister in such a predicament. If everything has to be hush-hush, that should be a warning sign.

        • Assalam alaikum,

          I have just left a comment after several days and my comment is awaiting moderation--this has not happened before and was wondering why.


        • Wa Alaikum AsSalaam Warahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh Sister

          I am glad your comment finally got posted. Alhamdulillah. I agree with your support of this sister and her rights. I notice from your above comments that you have addressed this issue and seem to have her best interest in mind. This is indeed a sensitive issue. There IS a question of her rights being honored, since we are unclear who her Wali was and how her interests were represented and protected by herself and her Wali. However, we should really remember that our sister is likely living alone with a child. As we share our opinions on the matter she has to bear the weight of our words on her own. We are unsure of her environment and support system. My concern in reading her post, and then the following comments is; the commenters seemed to jump immediately into a debate over the legitimacy of her husband's decisions………in his first marriage!? If the husband violated his marriage contract with his first wife, that has no impact on the legitimacy of the second marriage. It is not his second wife’s matter. It is not our matter, unless he or his first wife, post a question here. Why are we answering the poster with issues about her husband’s first marriage? Let's keep in mind, she has already married him. She is not considering marrying him. What exactly is our end goal with this method? If the Nikkah with the second wife met the structural requirements of the wedding party’s Madhab, then the marriage is legitimate. What are we “not condoning”? Secret marriage?

          I think we really need to make a distinction in what we are talking about when we say “secret marriage” and…... “secret marriage”. There is a structure to Nikkah and without that structure the Nikkah is invalid. If what is meant by secret marriage is; two people go off somewhere without witnesses and without Wali and say, “We’re married.” There is no such thing in Islam. But if what is meant is; the woman and her Wali (who could be an Imam) are approached by a married man and the man obtains the approval of the woman and the Wali to keep this new marriage a secret from his current wife and family (for a time), AND the Nikkah is carried out, meeting the structural requirements of the Madhab of the wedding party, then I do know what this means. There is nothing to stand against, or “not condone”. We cannot stand against legitimacy. On the other hand, if woman posts here, and tells a horrible story about her husband, who has violated the terms of her contract and married a second time, then she is a primary source carrying clear and verifiable evidence of oppression against that husband. This, we do not condone.

          ...In addition to the debate in this discussion being about the husband’s decision in his first marriage (which, again, has no bearing whatsoever on his second marriage, legally), the debate was based purely on speculation of the terms of contract of that first marriage, and the original country and custom of the parties in that marriage. We could deduce that since the second marriage is a secret, then the husband must be violating the terms of contract of the first marriage, but why would we do that? How does that help this poster? AGAIN, I say, that fact does not have any legal bearing on her own marriage. The general consensus seems to be that the original poster is vulnerable and at risk. Then why would we be discussing anything other than what is in her best interest, and what is within her power to control? Questioning the husband's integrity and right to take a second wife in secret (without knowing anything about him or his first wife), and questioning a woman's decision to be a secret second wife are two completely different things. The second approach is a more positive, and frankly, relevant approach…. Although I, myself, am hesitant to even address this without her direct question, some of you have done a good and humble job of it.

          A woman who has had enough decency to get married, whether she is first, second, third, fourth or secret wife, deserves respect, and she deserves for her matters to be handled with mindful consideration by the community- We should keep her best interests and safety in our minds and hearts- not our own issues and agendas- tact and delicacy is what I'm advocating for.

          Finally, I will say (and then leave it for good), my intention is not to hurt any of my sisters, or brothers. I am sorry if I was harsh in any way. To the original poster: as you can see there is a great deal of concern here for your well-being. I hope that if you do have any other questions you will feel safe and brave, and you will ask.

          Ma’AsSalaam Sisters and Brothers

          • Assalam alaikum Sister,

            I see your point, but I think about it little differently from you.

            Here is my take on it:

            I felt that the OP could be more detailed in her post, because it is difficult to give advice not know the full details--as I already ask in my first reply.

            Some of us have jumped into talking obout not just the legitimacy, but also the etiquettes of her marriage, because, it may be there in structure, but that doesnt mean that some things have been overlooked. She explained how she met her husband--that was concerning because they remained friends until he followed her and then married her.

            The sister herself is confused about how to deal with the etiquettes of the first wife and what should and what shouldn't happen. Then finally she wonders how she can claim child rights over him and benefits.

            The information on this page isn't just for the sister, but for a much larger audience. The topic is senstive. Keeping this all in mind, I wish people wouldn't say a man can more more than one woman. End of story. There are feelings to consider. There are etiquettes to follow. A married man shouldn't be befriending a female.

            I really am concerned about the sister, and to be honest, I wonder what is going on in her husband's mind--hence why I asked this earlier--it seems as though she wants to know what she can do legally--but is there a need? If her relationship is strong enough, then really talking to her husband should solve these matters. She obviously didn't feel comfortable to talk to him, so posted here. If I were in her shoes, I would want to know if there was a possibility that I was being taken advantage of--that is the point of talking about "condoning" this type of marriage and not promoting this situation.

            We can talk about the structure and details of this endlessly, but I think we all know that marriage isn't supposed to put a person in a vulnerable situation. It really shouldn't be secret--the issue isn't taking on a 2nd wife--it is the cirumstances that occured and because of those circumstances, there is probably more here than meets the eye.

            Women, who are 2nd wives, should be careful. The ones already in the situation can't change the past, but at least they might be able to recognize any concerns and begin to get their rights met. It isn't about fulfilling a secret agenda of my own--but rather bringing awareness to the sister. We know very little, but obviously something really bothered this sister enough to make her post a question.

            Anyways--I wish the OP the best--I hope it works out for her, inn shaa Allah--I am not sure her question got answered though--as very little information is provided.

  7. hes nt doing justice to u is he? keeping u on the side.

    u knw he may even have other wives? in secret hw cn u be sure? thts my view im nt clever but its I feel nt right.

  8. Waalaikum salam wrwb sister Dxdbaby,
    Sister, you have already received some good advice although some sisters might as well have confused you further by their way of analyzing your situation on little information that you have provided. I can't say whether it's a secret marriage or not because it may be that he informed his family (wife etc) about his decision to take a second wife. To which his family may or may not have agreed but he still married you; no one knows that, you need to find that out asap.
    I don't know how did you get married to him in the first place without knowing anything about this man, whether his first wife and family (parents/siblings) were OK with his decision or not? It is not to say that he needed their permission but it is part of good manner to inform everyone, besides marriage is not supposed to be a secret. Fact that you guys have known each other for quite a number of years is not enough to get married because marriage is not about two people, it's about two families (involves a lot of other things such as character, level of piety, manners etc) and also it's in the best interest of woman whether she is first or fourth wife.

    If there wasn't a contract between the two of you on when he is going to visit you (daily, weekly or monthly), financial support etc then it is assumed that he should treat you both equally in everything that is his time, money, care, and fulfilling his other duties as a husband should. He needs to spend time with children that you have or will have with him iA and fulfill your rights as well. It's about time you speak to him seriously and ask him to introduce you to his family. Last but not least and most important of all is that sister, educate your self in matters of religion. Huge part of your problem is that you married a man as second wife without knowing your rights. Here is a useful link to learn about your rights in the light of Quran and Sunnah.

    Hope I have helped you iA and if I said anything which was harsh than I apologize to you as that wasn't my intention. May Allah (swt) help you sort this out and your and your family live in peace and tranquility. Amin


  9. Assalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu. Sister be mindful of where you get your advice regarding polygyny. As a second wife I've heard many advises given to me simply because one doesn't support polygyny/vain desires that influence popular opinion etc and I'm sure you have as well. First, know your rights. If you willing agreed to forfeit some of your time then it is permissible. That doesn't seem to be the issue that you brought forward though. You asked whether your marriage is considered a secret marriage .... It depends on whether those around you aware of the marriage. Does YOUR family know you are married? Did you have witnesses? The marriage has to be publicized. We can't say you have a secret marriage based off his wife and family not knowing. As they aren't considered the "public" alone. My co-wife knows about me btw. Nonetheless your marriage is valid with Allah (swt) and whatever He makes permissible overrules culture and society. One of the sicknesses in our Ummah is people making impermissible what Allah swt made permissible due to cultural beliefs. Also, it's permissible for you to file child's rights on passport etc if it is his child. Regardless of whether you are in agreement to the time spent, you still have your rights and so does your child. Others attack the decision of the second wife often sister so keep focus on Allah (swt) and learn your rights and your child's rights. He is fulfilling his duty financially (remember that the wife of the prophet saw gave up her time to Aisha) so take no concern. Guide him in telling his first wife and show sabr. You have not claimed that you feel injustice towards you or whether you have an agreement on such matters so I cannot advise you in that regards. But do keep in mind that his not telling his family and other wife does not render your marriage invalid nor does it automatically mean that your marriage is a secret marriage.

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