Islam allows men to have up to 4 wives (simultaneously). Why would an overwhelmingly Muslim country, such as Turkey or Tunisia, ban polygamy?

Not banning it would of course not prevent most people to live as regular monogamous couple.

In order to be clear (seeing the comments I see the confusion): I know already that polygamy in 2017 is rare even in countries that allow it, and that there is many reasons for being against this lifestyle. Yet, I am not asking why don't anybody wants to have multiple wives / share their husbands with other wives. I am merely asking why a muslim country would make polygamy a criminal offense.


3 Answers 3


In Turkey this was the result of a secularist/Westernizing policy under Ataturk in 1926 and this policy may be poised to change, as the head of state apparently flaunts his violation of this law.

Tunisia is apparently the only other example and imposed its ban in 1956 when it gained independence, a time that coincides with strong secularist/Socialist/Western-oriented political leanings in the region. The fact that Tunisia is quite urban relative to many other predominantly Muslim countries may also be a factor as it is economically harder to maintain a larger family in an urban environment.


Turkey and Tunisia have, like Egypt, relatively secular governments, in that religion does not play a major role in government, though it may get some mention on occasion. When the more hardline Islamic Brotherhood won in Egyptian elections, the military removed them from power, and the majority of Egyptians appear to have approved of that action.

The theocracies found in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where the clerics play a major role in government (or have the final say on any government action in the case of Iran), tend to be the exception, rather than the rule.

  • Secularism says nothing about polygamy - they certainly do not want to encourage it, but is that enough to make it a criminal offense ?
    – Bregalad
    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:18

Turkey and Tunisia banning polygamy are merely part of policies to "modernize" the society from old feudalism/tribalism value, which is bad for nation building(though nationalism itself is another issue).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .