Difference Between Bigamy & Polygamy

Marriage is an age-old institution that plays a crucial role in society, providing a framework for raising a family and regulating sexual relationships. Various practices exist within different cultures, including polygamy, which is sanctioned in Islam, and bigamy, which is illegal in most cultures. People often struggle to differentiate between bigamy and polygamy due to their similar terminology, so this article aims to clarify the distinctions between both practices.

Bigamy occurs when a man marries another woman without informing his first wife, thus having two wives at the same time. In this situation, the first wife has legal status, while the second one does not. Bigamy is illegal in most countries, including the western world, regardless of whether the first wife has given her consent. The only exception to this is in Muslim countries, where bigamy is permitted under the law.

Polygamy is a form of marriage that can involve a single husband with multiple wives (polygyny), a single wife with multiple husbands (polyandry), or group marriage with multiple husbands and wives having sexual access to one another. Although this type of arrangement is not common in modern societies, polygamy is legally allowed in Muslim countries, where a man can marry up to four women. In these instances, all wives have legal status. However, polygamy is typically more of an exception than a tradition in modern times, with most people adhering to monogamy.

Key Takeaways

  • Bigamy involves a man marrying a second woman without the knowledge of his first wife, and it is illegal in most countries except for Muslim nations.
  • Polygamy is a form of marriage that can include a single husband with multiple wives, a single wife with multiple husbands, or group marriage with multiple husbands and wives; it is legally permitted in Muslim countries.
  • In modern times, polygamy is generally more of an exception than a tradition, with most people choosing monogamy.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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