Disclaimer: This is not to be taken as an insult to the Shayook.*

Most Western Muslim converts (at least the ones I know), tend to take their religion very serious. We want to get it right. Often times we will ask questions to the scholars that makes it difficult to answer – because they are coming from a totally different environment. Once upon a time, these special type of questions were put to the da’ees in our communities. Now that most of them have lost the respect and authority they once had in our communities; and we have been told that there are no scholars in the West; these western type questions are asked to scholars from the Muslim world. Who sometimes just don’t get it. I ran across this fatwa a moment ago and had to do a double take:

Question: If a person has a sexually transmitted disease that cannot be cured, and she is married can her husband take another wife?

Answer: It is upon the Muslim to marry the women that he is pleased with. Allaah تبارك وتعالى said:

فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ

{…then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four…} [an-Nisaa’ 4:3]

So there is no harm for him in doing so, even if his first wife has a disease or is sick. It is not incumbent upon him to let his second wife know the state of his first wife. If it is feared that the second wife may contract the disease from the first wife, then the solution will be to keep the second wife away from the first wife. This is the solution to this situation. However, as a reason for him to be prohibited from taking another wife, then no, because it is Allaah تعالى who has permitted him to take other wives as in His saying:

فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ

{…then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; 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…} [an-Nisaa’ 4:3]

I don’t think the Shaykh understands exactly how a sexually transmitted disease is transmitted. Keeping the wives away from each other is NOT the solution. I think that there should be no shame in the translators clarifying this to all those who heard or read this fatwa.This indeed is a dangerous fatwa, because the Shaykh did not understand the implications of his ruling. Now brothers who know full well how STDs are transmitted, will play the role like they got a fatwa saying that as long as his wives are separated, it’s all good. Either the nature of STDs should have been properly explained to the Shaykh, once it was clear that he obviously had no idea what an STD was and how it is spread or the brothers in charge of translating this, should have explained that the Shaykh may have not completely understod the question and that this answer should be reconsidered in light of that.

This question, reminds me of another question asked to a Shaykh about the use of Adult Toys between the Spouses. After translating the question and answer, the translator added as a footnote:

This was a difficult question to translate, and even after our translation of the question with additional details added, the shaykh was still not sure exactly what was being asked about! May Allaah reward him generously for his patience.

I understand the need to ask, ‘those who know’, but do we realise that there are different types of knowledge and just because one is a learned Islamic scholar doesn’t make them ‘in the know’ to these types of questions. With that said, where do you go to get a Ghetto Fatwa?

*If anything, it is a testament to the virtues of living in the Muslim world, where vices are not so wide spread that these types of questions are common. If we posed this question to a celibate priest in the West, he would know exactly what was meant (minus the Islamic conditions). However, despite a Shaykh having several wives and a dozen children , this type of concern is unheard of walhamduillah.