For a man to marry five wives

Q: Sometimes in Ghana a man marries a woman, but when she grows old, he keeps her in the house with her children and looks after them, but does not have sexual intercourse with her. He then marries another woman and has more than one wife. However, he counts among his four wives only those with whom he has sexual intercourse. Is this in agreement with the Shari‘ah (Islamic law)?

A: It is not permissible for a man to be married to more than four wives at the same time. (Part No. 18; Page No. 262) As Allah (Exalted be He) says: ...then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four Two or three or four means that if a man wants to marry two women he can do that, if he wants to marry three women he can do that, and if he wants to marry four women he can do that also. However, he may not marry more than four as that involves exceeding the limit set by the glorious Ayah (Qur’anic verse). It is authentically reported that The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered Ghaylan, who, on converting to Islam, had ten wives, to choose four of them and divorce the others. The Ummah (nation based on one creed) is unanimously agreed that marrying a fifth wife is Haram (prohibited). May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.