Saudi cleric Abdullah Al-Mutlaq recently sparked controversy after saying polygamous men aren't obligated to tell their first wife of a second marriage.
The Islamic scholar, who is an advisor to the kingdom's royal court, made the statement during an episode of state television program Fatawi (Religious Edicts). It came in response to a question on whether hiding a second marriage from a spouse is permissible.
"A husband who takes a second wife isn't obliged to tell the first. When it comes to what is recommended in such situations, women are different," Al-Mutlaq said.
"There's a kind of women who'll help you and give you guidance, but they're a minority. If that's the case, I advise a husband to tell his wife about their plans. But, there's another type of women who'll leave their husband once they know he's marrying someone else, and will abandon their kids. You want to enjoy yourself and go on a honeymoon, how are you going to do that with kids? So, it's OK not to tell her in this case," he added.
In a bid to balance out his statement, Al-Mutlaq then said that his words don't mean polygamous men are allowed to mistreat their first wives.
"Some men start to mistreat their first wives when they remarry and that's wrong. This is the mother of your children and first partner, so that should be taken into consideration," he explained.
His statement made the rounds on Twitter soon after, sparking a heated debate among many Saudi users.
Many deemed the cleric's response contradictory and couldn't make any sense of it, while a few agreed with what he said.
Some fully agreed with Al-Mutlaq
"His words are 100 percent correct."
However, others couldn't disagree more
"No, your words don't make any sense at all."
"As if it's better for the first wife to be played like that"
Many raised this question
"How can a man fulfill his duty to be equal to his wives if he marries in secret?"
"She has the right to know and choose whether she wants to stay in such a marriage"
"Don't issue any more edicts, Sheikh"
Not the first time Al-Mutlaq sparks controversy when discussing polygamy
Last year, the cleric caused quite the stir on Twitter after encouraging men to take second wives.
Al-Mutlaq's words came during a televised appearance where he was asked about solutions to spinsterhood.
"Some women don't help men in treating their multiple wives fairly and equally. The moment she learns her husband is about to take a second wife or already did, she goes crazy," he said.
The cleric went on to say that a woman's shock or anger in reaction to her husband taking a second wife is considered haram (unacceptable in Islam).
In Islam, polygamy is only permissible under a very tight frame of conditions
The religion first allowed polygamy for the sake of widows and orphans who have no means of survival.
The Quran clearly states that a man can only marry more than one woman if he treats her and all his other wives "equally."
"But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one," Surat An-Nisaa states.
The surah then declares: "You will never be able to be equal between wives, even if you should strive to do so." This makes Islam-approved polygamy near impossible to attain, even when conditions for it apply.