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Marriage To Conjoined Twins From The Shari’ah Perspective

Marriage to conjoined twins from the Shari’ah perspective

Compiled by Sanusi Lafiagi


Earlier in the week, pictures and videos from the marriage between Josh Bowling and one of the conjoined twins sister, Abby Hensel appeared all over the social media. It is understood that the marriage took place sometime in 2021. Abby and Britany Hensel became famous in 1996 when they appeared in an episode of The Oprah Winfrey show.

The Questions

1. Is it permitted in the Sharī’ah for a man to marry two blood sisters at the same time?

2. Is it allowed in Islam for a man to have sexual intercourse with two of his wives at the same time otherwise known as twosome?

The Answers

1. The Sharī‘ah forbids marriage between a man and two sisters related by blood or by fosterage at the same time (Qur’ān 4:23). If the couple were separated by divorce or death, there’s nothing wrong with the man for his ex wife’s sisters’ hand in marriage. The Sharī‘ah also forbids combining a lady with her aunt in marriage (See Bukhari 5109, Muslim 1408)

2. It is forbidden in Islam for a man to have sexual intercourse with more than one of his wives together at the same time and place. This is the consensus opinion of Muslim jurists derived from the texts of ahādīth which forbid exposing one’s aurah (nudity) save to one’s post, the natural fitrah of man, and norms and values of a sane society. Ibn Qudāmah in Al-Mughnī wrote:

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“وَإِنْ رَضِيَتَا بِأَنْ يُجَامِعَ وَاحِدَةً بِحَيْثُ تَرَاهُ الْأُخْرَى، لَمْ يَجُزْ؛ لِأَنَّ فِيهِ دَنَاءَةً وَسُخْفًا وَسُقُوطَ مُرُوءَةٍ، فَلَمْ يُبَحْ بِرِضَاهُمَا.”

“Should both wives agree that the husband engage in sexual activities with one of them in the presence of the other, such act is not permitted, because it is unethical and immoral.”

The Complications

Marriage to conjoined twins is one of the most complicated marriages, because of its many twists. Some of the issues are:

1. Does each of them have a fully developed body, or not? In most cases, they have two heads, two hands, a pair of breasts, one vagina, and two feet. This means that neither of them has a full body to herself. The complication here is that, there’s no way that Mr Josh is having sexual relating with Abby only. The breasts and vagina belongs to them both, even though they have independent heads.

2. In a case where each of them has a separate vagina, would it be sensible for two separate men to marry them, and each man enjoys sexual relation with his wife? This case is even worse and more complicated than (1) above.

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How realistic is it for such sisters to be married to 2 separate husbands? Can each couple enjoy a private session without the other woman knowing about it? Ibn Qudāmah wrote:

وَلَا يُجَامِعُ بِحَيْثُ يَرَاهُمَا أَحَدٌ، أَوْ يَسْمَعُ حِسَّهُمَا

“He should not have sexual intercourse with her where anyone can see them or hear their moaning…”

3. In case (2) above, would it be permitted for a man to marry one of the sisters and enjoy sexual relations with her independently? This, no doubt will constitute harm for the other sister who would witness and feel sexual urge, but whose desire would remain unfulfilled. In Islam, it is forbidden to harm a fellow being without a legally justifiable cause.

This leaves us with two questions:

1. Is marriage allowed for conjoined twins?

2. Does marrying conjoined twins amount to combining two sisters in marriage?

There’s no doubt that marriage is encouraged by the Sharī‘ah as a means to achieving certain cardinal objectives of our physical and spiritual existence. It becomes a compulsory duty if one has the means and fears committing illicit affairs. Thus, conjoined twins or not, whoever has the wherewithal to marry and fears falling into sins of the carnal desires is encouraged to marry.

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In the case above, the most reasonable thing would be to treat the conjoined twins as one entity and not two. I spoke to a few medical experts to ask if it’s possible for one of the sisters to die while the other survives. The closest I’ve heard is that it’s nearly impossible, so long as they are conjoined and not separated medically.

If that’s the case, marriage to a conjoined twins shall not be treated as marriage to two sisters at the same time. Consequently, having sexual relations with a conjoined twins whether they have the same or separate vaginas shall not be treated as having sex with two wives together. In the case of two separate vaginas, the husband shall enjoy both as they belonged to his wife.

This, in my opinion, is the closest to law, and sound logic.

Note: I benefitted a lot from the comment of Engr Sulaiman of Tabsirah group which I read earlier today. May Allāh reward him.

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