Yes. Muslim men can marry four wives. I know, it feels weird. You maybe have this ideal of American love stories where one man and one woman are together forever and there's no one else. I was raised with the same idea and in my future family, I hope that happens to be the case. But it's not always the case. If you keep reading, you'll get a little bit of insight into it, I promise.
Islam is a religion filled with feminism - equality for women is exceptionally important in our religion! The Prophet Muhammad commanded that baby girls may no longer be killed as they were previously buried alive within their society as the "norm." (That's just a quick of the top of my head example).
So, if our religion is so filled with this idea of equality, how come men can marry four wives and women can't marry multiple husbands? HOW COME A GUY CAN MARRY FOUR WOMEN?!? How does his first wife feel?!
First, let's look at this historically.
At the time that the revelation came that men could marry four wives at one time, men were dying in battle. In huge quantities.
When a society loses a significant proportion of its men, and the women are not the providers as it is not fitting of the time in 600 A.D.+, who the heck is going to take care of those women? And children? How will they eat?
Mama bear can't just go out and get a job like in today's world. There were very few #bossladies. (Although Prophet Muhammad's wife Khadija was a successful businesswoman when he married her!)
Thus, men married multiple women as a means of taking care of the society as a whole.
Also, at the time, men were marrying twenty-seven or forty-six women at one time and there was nothing wrong with it. It was culturally normal. The decree that men could only marry four was actually a huge change at the time. JUST FOUR?
For example (the best of examples)... Prophet Muhammad (may God's peace be upon him) was married to his first wife (Khadija) for 25 years before she passed away. He was not married to another woman during her life. Their love story is very beautiful if you ever have time to read it.
When she died, he married multiple other wives (the number varies based on who you ask). A majority of them were widows or of different tribes. Their marriages were as a means to provide for those women or as a social means of connecting tribes together.
Still feel yucky? It's okay....
This practice does happen in Muslim countries. Someday when I decide to get married, I could be a second wife - or a first and he finds someone else to marry.
But, I'm not too worried about that, nor am I too upset.
Why? Because there's multiple conditions upon which he has to fulfill in order to participate in this practice.
He has to treat all of them EXACTLY equally. That's not easy. I recently adopted two kittens that are sisters. I bought them at the same time, and I still have a favorite (shhh... don't tell them).
He has to provide them each their own living quarters. If he gives one of them something, he has to give it to the other. You gotta be rich to have that kinda swag, people!
And yes, there are people (albeit very few) that I know that are children of second wives or third wives or fourth wives. Their father is still the strong, loving father to them as he is to his other wives and other children. Their mothers still feel taken care of and loved by the father from what they tell me.
Look... I can't lie. It's not for everyone. With my upbringing, I don't think I could sleep a wink knowing my husband is with another woman and that I have to share his heart with her.
But, because this is a decree from God, I accept it. I respect it.
If my husband wants to marry another wife, there will be some STRONG words from me against that choice, but it is his right.
And, if he has a valid reason for it (i.e. by the time I'm married I'm 47 years old and I can't have babies...) then I could absolutely understand that situation.
When I look at these two aspects - the practicality and the context historically - I see why it's SO rare among Muslims and SO RARE among my group of friends and their families.
Once I talked to a friend who was divorced and I asked him why didn't you take another wife instead of getting divorced? He said, "HALF of a wife would be too much for me, why would I ever want TWO?"
And, that's the common feeling of Muslim men.
A vast majority want the same lovey dovey fairytale the girls want. Especially the ones from our generation.
May Allah make each woman and each man who come together in marriage fulfilling to the other - emotionally, domestically, physically, and in all other applications. May they care for each other in all contexts. And, may He help us to see His Reasons behind His Wisdom.
"And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you." (Quran 2:216).