Answer

Why does Imam Shirbeeni says it is is Sunnah to not marry more than one wife without a need when the Prophet and nearly all the Salaf married more than one?

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In al-Hawi al-Kabir 11/417, Mawardi mentioned a difference of opinion between the Zahiriyyah and Imam Shafi'i regarding a man marrying multiple wives.

According to the Zahiris, it is recommended for one to marry four; completing the number they say is recommended. Imam Shafi'i differed and maintained that just one may be preferred, even if four are permitted.

Qadi Mawardi related this with tafsil. He stated that what should be considered is the husband's condition. If he is satisfied by just one, then that is best for him. But if not, then marrying again would be recommended, marrying until he is content, up to four. This tafsil is applies in other books too. Like in Khatib Shirbini's Mughni al-Muhtaj, he mentioned the issue of marrying just one wife to be "unless there is a hajah zahirah." And in that case, marrying additional wives is recommended as stated by Mawardi. In al-Sharh al-Kabir, Imam Rafi'i confirmed what Mawardi mentioned, as did Ibn al-Rif'ah in Kifayah.

The Shafiyyah do not state, in an absolute manner, that one wife only is recommended; rather they consider what is best to be based on the husband's desire to do so.

In his Sirah, al-Muhibb al-Tabari mentioned that the Prophet (upon him be peace) married Khadijah when she was twenty-eight and he twenty-five years old. And she passed when the Prophet (upon him be peace) was well into the forty-ninth year of his blessed life. Thus, the Prophet (upon him be peace) lived a good portion of life monogamously, and later he practiced polygyny.

And Allah knows best.

Answered by Yaqub Abdurrahman