Polygamy in Islam – WHY ???
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines polygamy as “the practice of having two or more wives or husbands at the same time.” Since Muslim women are not allowed to have two or more husbands, let’s find a better word: polygyny. The same dictionary defines polygyny as “a practice of having two or more wives at the same time.”
Marriage to more than one wife at the same time – Polygyny – is a practice as old as the history of man, and is allowed in Islamic law. Among others, Polygynywas well known to the Ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, Japanese, Hindus, Russians and Germanic peoples.
All previous revealed religions practiced and condoned Polygyny. The Old and New Testaments are at the foremost in the list of the religious Books that legalized and practiced it. Many of the Prophets of Allah before Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) entered into plural marriages. Prophet Abraham had two wives; Prophet Jacob had four wives; and Prophet David had ninety-nine wives (may Allah exalt their mention). Prophet Solomon (may Allah exalt their mention) had seven hundred wives who were free noble women, and three hundred other wives who were slave women. Nowhere does the law of the Prophet Moses (may Allah exalt their mention) set or determine a specific number of wives to which a husband was entitled. The compilers of the Talmud, who lived around Jerusalem, decided upon a certain number of wives for a man, and some Jewish scholars only permitted a second wife or more if the first wife was permanently ill or barren. Still other Jewish scholars did not permit plural marriages at all.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is commissioned to comply with and complete the Laws of Moses (may Allah exalt their mention) and we cannot find a single quote in the Bible that forbids plural marriage. The prohibition of plural marriages in Christianity came about only as a result of legislation set forth certain segments of the Christian church, and not by the original teachings of Christianity itself.
For this reason we find many examples of Christians taking multiple wives. The Irish king, Ditharmet, for instance, had two wives. King Frederick the Second had two wives with the church’s approval. Thus, it must be noticed that prohibition was in the hands of the priests of the church, and not in accordance with any universally recognized original law of Jesus Christ himself (may Allah exalt their mention). Martin Luther, the German priest who first established the Protestant sect, considered plural marriage acceptable and advocated it on many occasions.
Polygyny was well known amongst pagan Arab tribes prior to the advent of Islam but there was no limitation for the number of wives, like in the cases of some of the Prophets mentioned above. With the advent of Islam, the Islamic law condoned Polygyny but a man was limited to only four wives, and specific rules regulated these marriages. There are numerous examples in the authentic traditions wherein the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) obligated those who had more than four wives, when they accepted Islam, to choose four and divorce the rest honorably. Allah, the Most Beneficent, said:
(And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.) [4:3]
Thus we see that strict justice and fairness in treatment, and avoiding any injustice and wrong practices against all wives, is stipulated and conditional for those who wish to take more than one wife. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) warned against favoritism saying:
“He who has two wives and is not just between them, he will come on the Day of Resurrection with one of his sides fallen.” [Abu Dawood #2133 & Tirmidhi #1141 and verified]
Justice and fairness, in this context, applies to material things such as expenditure, fair division of wealth, gifts, time, etc. As for emotional matters, such as love and inclination of the heart towards one wife over the other, it is recognized that man has no control over his innermost heart and emotions, as they are involuntary. Allah, the Most Beneficent, said:
(You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire (i.e. emotions of the heart), so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e. neither divorced nor married). And if you do justice, and do all that is right and fear Allah by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful) [4:129]
Aishah, the mother of the believers and the wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him), narrated:
“The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) would distribute everything justly amongst his wives, then say: O Allah! This is my division for what I possess, O Allah! Do not blame me for what You alone possess while I do not (i.e. emotions of the heart). [Abu Da`wood, Tirmidhi others, but with a weak chain]
A man who is impotent should not seek any marriage since he is unable to fulfill its basic requirement. He who knows for sure that he is financially incapable of supporting another wife and household, is not allowed to seek another marriage, just as the bachelor who seeks to marry must strive to earn the wherewithal and must be able to sustain his wife and future children. As Allah says, and which can be taken as a general rule:
(And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them with His Bounty.) [34:33]
Let us take a look of some conditions that befall people of any society, and then assess whether Polygyny is a good solution for the problems that occur, and also the practice of Polygyny is in favor of a woman or against her! The following points prove that monogamy in many situations leads to promiscuity, prostitution or divorce:
– If a woman is sterile and the husband is interested in having children, should he divorce the woman and marry a second wife? Or, if she chooses to stay married to him, should he take a second wife giving them both equal rights as his lawful wives?
– If a wife is chronically ill and cannot maintain her marital relations with her husband, should he keep her and take a second wife wherein she remains perfectly honored, cared for and provided for by her husband? Or should he divorce her?
– Some men are financially strong, and sexually demanding and potent with higher levels of hormonal testosterone. One wife may not be able to fulfill his lawful and natural sexual desire. If the menstrual period or after-birth-confinement period is notably longer than normal, or if she has no natural sexual desire to match that of the husband, or other scenarios, what is better for both husband and wife in such a case? Is it better for the man to remain frustrated and pent up, or seek unlawful sexual satisfaction outside the marriage? Or to acquire other lawful wives who can help to keep him chaste and satisfied?
– In various parts of the world international and civil wars and other catastrophes often take their toll on men more than women. Even naturally, the demographic number of females, for various reasons, is often more than males in most countries. The best example of this is the case of the First World War, and the Second World War, which claimed the lives of an astronomical number of men who had participated in the fighting, with tens of millions of them being killed.
– In other trouble spots the disproportionate death ratios are similar. In such a case, if every man had only one wife, what would be the necessary destiny of the women left without lawful marriage to satisfy their social, financial and sexual needs? Some women may be tempted to satisfy their sexual desires in unlawful ways through fornication, lesbian activities or prostitution, a destabilizing factor for any society. The abundance of women without husbands, or male relatives to care and protect their interests, is one factor that helps spread corruption and illegitimate sexual activities in societies. What is better for a society and for such women in this case: to remain single and suffer all the consequences of life without marriage; or to accept to be a second wife with an honest, protective, honorable and chaste man?
Promiscuity unfortunately exists in all modern societies, but should it be legalized or condoned, as is the case under man-made laws, with all the social consequences? In most contemporary societies only monogamous marriage is legal, but extra martial relations are allowed as a socially acceptable substitute for the situations mentioned above, in the form of mistresses, girl friends, escort services, prostitution and common law marriages.
These types of relationships have no merits of their own to stand on, and if the couple does not eventually get legally married, the illicit relationship often leads to abuse and conflict. These illicit relationships are only meant to fulfill sexual interests of the two parties involved without the responsibilities, and abuse the rights of the women in general. Legally it imposes no financial, social, or emotional obligations, and if the woman becomes pregnant, it is her own problem, with the illegitimate children left without the support of a family and sometimes abandoned to the social service system. Men, generally, are not obliged to admit the paternity of the child, thus not obliged to take financial responsibility for the child. Abortions proliferate in this kind of society. In accordance with Islamic law, a second, third, or fourth wife enjoys all the rights and privileges of the first wife without an iota of injustice or dishonor to her.
Adultery, fornication and all extramarital sexual relations are strictly forbidden in Islam and the prophet took all measures to protect the society from these social diseases which, if they become widespread, can only bring harm and destruction upon individuals, families, and the basic bond holding the society together as a whole. The following tradition shows the wisdom of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and patience in convincing a young virile man, by eloquent analogies, the injustice of double standards and the evils of wanton desires leading to fornication and adultery.No one would want his own female relatives to be exploited, used and abused, so how, then, can they allow themselves to exploit others?
An authentic tradition narrates:
“A young man came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) and asked:
“O Messenger of Allah, permit me (with special license) to commit fornication (and adultery).”
The people started to rebuke him harshly, but the Prophet sat close to him and asked: “Would you like it for your mother?
He replied “No, by Allah, may Allah make me a sacrifice for you!”
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their mothers,” and continued:
“Would you like it for your daughter?”
“No” he replied.
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their daughters,” and continued:
Would you like it for your paternal aunt?”
“No” he replied.
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their paternal aunts,” and asked:
“Would you like it for your maternal aunt?”
“No” he replied.
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: “And thus the people do not like it for their maternal aunts.” Then the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) put his hand on the youth and said: ‘O Allah forgive his sin and purify his heart and make him chaste (fortify his abstinence from sexual sins). [Ahmad #22265 and verified]
One might say that this tradition is a practical application of the golden rule as mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him):
“None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”
[Bukhari #15 & Muslim #44]
Polygyny in the Islamic society is limited to four wives only; the marriages being performed lawfully with a proper marriage contract, witnesses, etc. The man must bear all financial burdens and responsibilities to his wives and children that arise from his marriages. All the children are legitimate and must be raised and cared for under the responsibility of both parents.
One might ask that, if we permit Polygyny for men, why is not polyandry permitted for women?
The answer to this question is simple since numerous natural and physical reasons, as indicated above, preclude this as a viable option. Men in almost all societies of the world have the position, domination and authority over the households due to their natural endowment and strength. Even if, for argument’s sake, we forego the idea of their strength and suppose that a woman has two or more husbands, the question will arise: who will have the ultimate authority and leadership of the home – as this would create harmful competition, jealousy, anger and hatred among the husbands and result in great destruction in the society.
Moreover, if a woman were allowed to be married to more than one man, who would be the legal father of the child she bears, and how would fatherhood be convincingly determined? What would happen to the demography of the society after some generations of this arrangement? Would the men be able to remain chaste within their marriage vows in such an arrangement with one wife, or would he be tempted into promiscuity? The answers to all these questions are obvious. Since a woman can only become pregnant approximately once a year and she can get pregnant by only one man at a time, while a man can naturally impregnate more than one woman on a continual basis, it follows that it is more logical and natural that the man has more than one wife and that she doesn’t engage more than one husband.
Above all in Polygyny, the man is responsible for the provision of all of his wives and children, which keeps everything in order, while this is not the case in polyandry, thus impractical from any conceivable angle whatsoever. The following are statements of some Western thinkers who demanded Polygyny and considered it the only solution for the problems they were confronted with in their societies.
Gustav Le Bon, the well-known French thinker, says in his book Arabic Civilization:
“Polygyny enables the society to reduce social crisis, prevents the mistress problem and cures the society from illegitimate children.”
Annie Besant, in her book on Indian Religions says:
“I read in the Old Testament that the closest friend to Allah, whose heart acts upon the Will of Allah, was polygynous. Moreover, the New Testament did not forbid Polygyny except for priests or ministers of the church, who were required to keep and maintain one wife only. Old Indian religious books also permitted Polygyny. It is easy, however, to criticize others in their religious practices. And that is what made people accuse Islam and attack it for its permission of Polygyny. However, it is strange that Westerners are against the restricted and limited Polygyny of the Muslims, while they suffer from wide scale prostitution and promiscuity in their own societies. A close examining look at the Western society illustrates that only a few pure, chaste and honest men respect their clean marital relationships and honor their marriage to one single wife and have no other sexual relationship outside marriage. It is an incorrect and inaccurate statement, therefore, to describe a community as monogamous, in which the men maintain a single marriage, while they are indeed having mistresses, girl friends and other means of sexual relationship outside the marriage to their legal and lawful wife.
If we were to be fair and just, we could see that Polygyny in Islam protects, honors, maintains and respects women in society. Polygyny is better than the Western prostitution that permits a man to have a mistress or a girl friend to fulfill his sexual desires with no respect to the feelings, emotions, needs and honor of the women. The man will disown that woman as soon as he gets his satisfaction. The man has no social commitment or obligation towards the mistress or the girl friend. She is only meant to fulfill his sexual needs of the moment and give him the company he needs temporarily. Even though some people declare both Polygyny and fornication or prostitution as bad and unacceptable, yet it is unfair for the non-Muslims to blame a Muslim for doing the same thing that he does while his society accepts and condones it.”
Jawad, a well-known English scholar, says:
“The stiff British system which prevents Polygyny is an unfair and unacceptable system. It severely hurts approximately two million women who have become old maids. These women have lost their youth and were deprived of having children. Thus, these women were forced to throw away the moral values as one throws away the pit of a date.”
Mobenar, a member of the previous French Parliament noted:
“There are two and a half million French girls now who cannot find a husband, if we assume that every French young man will marry only one woman. I frankly declare what I truly believe is that a woman will not enjoy a healthy life unless she becomes a mother. I believe that any law which passes a judgment that such a big number of the members of a society should live opposing, contradicting and neglecting to fulfill the natural laws of man on the Earth is but a cruel and savage law that contradicts the simplest meaning of justice and fairness.”
In 1959, the United Nations published a special publication stating:
“This publication has proven, by numbers and statistics, that the entire world is now facing a growing problem of illegitimate children, as opposed to legitimate children. The number of illegitimate children has increased 60% in some countries. In Panama, for instance, the percentage of illegitimate births soared to 75% of the total number of births in the country. This means that three out of every four children are illegitimate, born outside of wedlock. The highest percentage of illegitimate births is stated to be in Latin America.”
At the same time, the publication proves and indicates that the number of illegitimate births in the Islamic world is almost nil (in comparison with other countries). The editor of the publication goes on to say that Islamic countries are protected against such social problems and disease due to the fact that the people practice Polygyny.
here is no doubt, that no woman relishes the thought of sharing her husband with another and that plural marriages provide a bases for jealousies to arise. However, the laws of Islam always give precedence to the general welfare of society over individual discomfort or personal preferences. Hence, the Islamic marriage system includes polygyny to protect and provide for the ever present surplus or females in most human societies. The institution of polygyny in the Islamic marriage system also takes into account certain undeniable aspects of human nature which affect male-female relationships. These aspects represent the natural instincts which must be present in order for men to be prepared and able to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the surplus females in society.
Conditions That Must Be Met
Certain conditions are attached to plural marriage in Islam, in order to protect the women involved because it is invariably the women who are taken advantage of in such relationships. For example, a man may not have more than four wives at a time and each marriage contract is legal and binding, involving the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as the first contract. That is, wife number one is not the mother or chief of all subsequent wives, nor is wife number four allowed preferential treatment at the expense of the other wives. Each individual marriage contract carries the same amount of weight in an Islamic court of law and thus men are not allowed to openly attach greater importance to one at the expense of the other. Such behaviour would not be equitable treatment and might even be construed as oppression.
In fact the Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said:
“Whoever has two wives and leans unduly to one of them will come on the Day of Judgment with half of his body leaning.” [Sunan Abu Dawud, Reported by Abu Hurairah (RA)]
So the man must live with all of his wives on a footing of equality and kindness. In fact, the whole question of permissibility of plural marriages in Islam is tied to a given man’s ability to deal unjustly with all his wives in terms of his time and wealth.
Love and Marriage
Love, as it is known in the West, is not a prerequisite for marriage in Islam. Hence, the concept of plural marriages does not have as emotionally devastating an effect on true Muslim women as it would have on their non-Muslim counterparts, except where western influences are great. The most important factor in a truly Islamic marriage is the piety of the partners involved. This fact was alluded to by the Prophet (SAW) in the following statement:
“A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property (wealth), her rank (lineage), her beauty and her religion. However, you should marry the one who is religious and you will be satisfied.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Reported by Abu Hurairah (RA)]
Besides the reasons mentioned above, a woman may also marry for other reasons, such as security, offspring and companionship. However, love usually follows marriage, so it is better to marry a religious, pious, disciplined man and love for Allah’s (SWT) pleasure rather than to develop a pre-marital romantic fixation which often fades in time due to the inevitable trials of marriage.
Due to the emphasis on romantic love within western culture, it is difficult for people (Muslims included) to comprehend the concept of love after marriage; love for the sake of Allah (SWT) and love built on the virtues of loyalty, trust and faith in Allah (SWT). According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet (SAW) and his companions married for a variety of reasons. They married widows with children, divorced women and captives of war in order to consolidate and reconcile groups to the Islamic cause, in addition to marrying for the normal reasons which men marry for.
Islam as it was revealed to the Prophet (SAW) is a complete way of life which leaves no aspect of life without regulations, enabling Muslims whether male or female to stay on the correct path. Hence, if a man is able to care for and take care of more than one wife justly, there is no sin on him if he does so. On the contrary, he should be commended for following the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and fulfilling his role as a guardian of women.
Nevertheless, we must bow to the fact that love is destined by Allah (SWT) and can not be forced to appear where Allah (SWT) has not willed it. This situation is analogous to friendships which exist among members of the same sex. We admit to having or having had deeper feelings for one or more of our friends than others, due to greater similarity in interests or greater compatibility for whatever reasons. Similarly, parents may actually be fonder of one or more of their children than others among them; however, parents usually refrain from showing this inclination openly and Islam forbids it. Nonetheless, our various friendships are not negated by an inevitable greater intimacy with some of our friends over others, nor does a greater inclination toward one child negate the love that is felt for all. Man is unable to control his emotions in the ultimate sense. They arise in him when he least expects them, hence, he can not willfully decide where his heart is going to lodge. The fact that man has no real control over love and affection is supported by a number of Qur’anic verses. Allah (SWT) says:
“…and know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart…” (Al-Anfal 8:24)
Allah (SWT) also says in the Qur’an:
“And He had united their (i.e. believers’) hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them. Certainly He is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Al-Anfal 8:63)
An illustration of this fact can be seen in a narration from Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) in which he said,
“When I once said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (SAW), what if I went to Hafsah (RA) and said to her, do not be misled because your co-wife and neighbour [Aishah (RA)] is more beautiful and beloved to the Prophet (SAW).’ He [the Prophet (SAW)] smiled approvingly.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
In another narration, Aishah (RA) stated,
“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to divide his time equally amongst us and would pray, ‘O Allah, this is my division in what I possess, so please do not hold me to blame for the division (of affection) which only You control.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Both Hadiths refer to the greater feelings that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was known to have had for one of his wives over the others. Yet, in spite of his emotional inclinations, he divided his time and wealth equally among all of them. Thus it is recommended, based on the example of the Prophet (SAW), that all men married to more than one wife be equal in the division that they are capable of controlling, namely time and wealth.
Equitable Treatment in Regards to Time and Wealth NOT Love
The importance of equitable treatment in regard to time and wealth can not be overstressed as it is the major factor excluding the established pre-requisites for marriage, in general, that a man can weigh and assess in his day to day inter-action with his wives. Unfortunately, there are some modern day Muslims, under the influences of western thought, who have misinterpreted some Qur’anic verses in order to support their arguments for monogamy and the abolition of polygyny. However, the equality referred to in Surah An-Nisa 4:3 is referring to time and money.
“…If you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (time and money) with them then only one…” (An-Nisa 4:3)
Whereas, the equality mentioned in Surah An-Nisa 4:129 refers to that which no man or woman has control over but which belongs exclusively to Allah’s (SWT) decree.
“…You will never be able to do perfect justice (love and sex) between wives even if it is your ardent desire.” (An-Nisa 4:129)
The Prophet’s (SAW) companions, ‘Ubayadah as-Salmanee and Ibn ‘Abbas (RU), both stated that the time equality spoken of in Surah An-Nisa 4:129 refers to love and sex. Furthermore, we must take note of the fact that even the Prophet (SAW) begged pardon for that which was not in his possession, the feelings of love, affection or sympathy which were known to be greater for one of his wives than the others. Yes, Allah (SWT) allowed the Prophet (SAW) to marry a greater number of women than was allowed to ordinary Muslim men. Thus any attempt to forbid polygyny on the basis that a man might love one of the women more than the others is futile and baseless because this factor can not be used as a gauge for justice in Islamic plural marriages.
The division of time amongst the wives according to Islamic law is generally made according to the nights, due to the fact that night is usually the time in which mankind relaxes from work and takes rest. During the night, people take refuge in their homes from the struggles of the outside world and men and women spend their most intimate time together.
Thus a man married to more than one wife should divide the nights among his wives while the day is his to earn a living, to take care of other people’s needs or whatever else a man wishes to do as long as it is lawful. Whatever a man’s profession might be, he will probably be engaged in it during a major portion of the day. The division of time is based on the time period allotted to sleep or rest.
The resting periods must be divided equally among the wives. A man may divide the nights by giving one to each wife according to the Prophet’s (SAW) practice; however, he may also divide them on the basis of two to each or three to each wife. If, however, a man has four wives it would be preferable to divide his time on the basis of one night each, whereby, each wife would get a chance to be with her husband every three days. A division on the basis of two nights would mean that each wife would only be with the husband after an interlude of six days. Under normal circumstances, the day up until Maghrib (setting of the sun and the time of the fourth daily prayer) is considered a part of the previous night which started at Maghrib on the previous day according to the lunar calendar.
Time Rights of a New Wife
The extra free time for acquaintance given to the virgin bride is obviously needed due to the newness of marriage and sex to her, whereas the previously married bride in most cases is familiar with both and needs only a chance to become familiar with her new partner. However, the option of seven days is also given for the widow or divorcee in order to allow for cases wherein marriage and sex may be as new to her as to the virgin. This applies in cases where her previous marriage was extremely short or even unconsummated or the lapse of time between her previous marriage and her re-marriage was great. When an already married man marries a new wife, he is allowed by law an acquaintance period with his new wife of seven consecutive days if she is a virgin and three days if she has been married previously. He does this without making up the time for the remaining wife or wives. This law is based on the Sahaba, Anas’ (RA) report, “It is from the Sunnah. The Prophet’s (SAW) said,
“If a man marries a virgin then he stays with the virgin wife for seven days and then divides his time equally after that. And, if he marries a woman who was previously married, not a virgin, he should stay with her for three days then divide his time equally.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
However, if the previously married new wife requests seven days for herself, he may also do that but he must make up the full time with the other wives. Abu Bakr ibn al-Harith reported that on the following morning after the Prophet (SAW) married Umm Salamah (RA), he said to her,
“Do not feel that you are unimportant among your people, for if you wish, I will spend seven days (with you) and spend seven with the rest of my wives or if you wish, I will spend three days with you and divide the time equally after that.” She replied, “Make it three.” (Sahih Muslim)
Thus as soon as the new wife has been given her time right, the husband is obliged to begin dividing his time equally among the remaining wives, by drawing lots to determine with whom he will start.
Giving Up Division Rights
A wife may give up her division right to her husband, to some of his wives or all of his wives if the husband agrees. Since it is his right to take pleasure from her, it must be with his agreement. This principle is based upon the fact that Sawdah (RA) [one of the Prophet’s (SAW) wives] gave her day to Aishah (RA) [another one of the Prophet’s (SAW) wives]. So the Prophet (SAW) used to add the time originally allotted to Sawdah (RA) to Aishah’s (RA) time. It is narrated that when Sawdah bint Zam’ah (RA) became old and feared that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) might divorce her, she said,
“O Messenger of Allah (SAW), I give my day to Aishah.” And, he accepted it. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
If the day which is given precedes or follows the day of the wife to whom the day is given, the husband may stay with that wife for two consecutive days. But if the other wives have days in between, the husband is not allowed to put the days together without the permission of the other wives. If the right is given to the husband, he may give it anyone of the wives he wishes to. However, if a wife gives up her time without giving it to another wife or to her husband, he has to divide his time equally among the remaining wives. What is more, the wife who has given up her turn may ask for it back whenever she wishes but she has no right to what has already passed.
It is preferable that each wife have separate living quarters in which the husband visits her because that was the way Allah’s Messenger (SAW) divided his time. In view of this fact, a husband should NOT put his wives in the same house unless they agree to a communal arrangement or the house is divided into distinct and separate apartments such as might be found in a duplex. It makes no difference whether the house is large or small if kitchen, bathroom and other facilities are shared, because living together constitutes a type of hardship on women due to the natural jealousies which are likely to arise among them. Such living arrangements often lead to arguments and fighting which obliterate the apparent economic benefits of living together. The wives may experience jealousy when he goes to either of them or they may imagine preferences which could lead one or more of them to experience emotional harm or inhibition. Nevertheless if they agree, it is permissible because it is their right to decide.
If the husband wishes to travel and wants to or is only able to take some of his wives with him, he has to choose among them by drawing lots as all of them have equal rights to travel with him if they wish. This principle is based on the Prophet’s (SAW) practice as narrated by his wife, Aishah (RA), wherein she said,
“Whenever the Prophet (SAW) wanted to travel, he used to draw lots among his wives and the wife whose lot came out would travel with him.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The husband is then not required to make up the time spent on the trip of the wife or wives who did not travel, regardless of the length of the trip. Al-Bukhari’s collection of Hadiths further mentions that on one occasion the lots came to Aishah (RA) and Hafsah (RA). However, if he takes two wives on a trip with him by drawing lots, he has to treat them equally in all the previously mentioned aspects of division.
Spending and Clothing Rights
It is not necessary for a husband to provide his new wife with all the luxuries already possessed by his other wives right away. However, he is required to provide her with the basic necessities according to his means and social status. He may, if he chooses to, provide her with any amounts of gifts as part of her dowry. However, after marriage all gifts must be balanced.
Personal allowances are not a requirement according to the Islamic law. However, if the husband decides to give one of his wives an allowance, he should give the others the same. Similarly, gifts should be balanced. However, if he buys earrings for one and the other has no desire for earrings, he should give the cost of the earrings to her or buy her something else of equivalent value. Spending for children is not included in the division of wealth among wives.
Hence, it goes without saying that if one wife has seven children and the other wife has two that the husband must spend more in terms of food and clothing for the larger family. Read More at :
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