Obligation Of Treating Co-wives Fairly And Some Of The Rules On Travel For Men With More Than One Wife
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
I would like to know if it is allowed for a
man, when he is married to two wives to take the
second wife every time if he will travel, even if the
first wife cannot go because of her children. What can
she do if she feels that he do not want to divide his
time equally between them. Please advice a good
website with answers on polygamy.
Praise be to Allaah.
Allaah has enjoined justice and fairness in all
things. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Allaah commands justice [and] the doing of good"
Ibn Jareer al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him)
In this Book that He revealed to you, O Muhammad,
Allaah enjoins justice, which is fairness.
Tafseer al-Tabari (17/279).
Allaah has forbidden injustice and wrongdoing (zulm)
to His slaves, and He warns those who are unjust or do
wrong of punishment in this world and in the
It was narrated from Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased
with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said, narrating from Allaah, may
He be glorified and exalted: " ‘O My slaves, I have
forbidden zulm to Myself and I have made it haraam
among you, so do not wrong one another." Narrated by
Allaah has enjoined justice and fairness between
co-wives, and there is a warning against wronging one
of them at the expense of another. Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
"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 (slaves) that your right hands
possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa'di (may Allaah have mercy
on him) said:
i.e., the one who wants to take two or three or four
wives may do so, but no more than that, because the
context of the verse reminds people of the blessings
of Allaah, so it is not permissible to add anything to
the number that Allaah has defined, according to
scholarly consensus. That is because a man's desire
may not be fulfilled by one wife, so it is permitted
for him to take more, up to four, because four is
sufficient for anyone, except in rare cases. However,
that is only permitted to him if he is confident that
he will not be unfair and unjust, and that he will be
able to give them their rights.
If he is afraid that any of this applies to him, then
he should limit himself to one, or to slaves that his
right hand possesses, because he is not obliged to
divide his time equally when it comes to slave women.
"That", i.e., limiting yourself to one or to what your
right hand possesses (slave women)
"is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice" i.e.,
being unfair or unjust.
Limiting it to one applies in the case where a person
fears he may be unjust or unfair, and may fail to do
what is required, so he should err on the side of
caution and not put himself in that position.
Tafseer al-Sa'di (p. 163).
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be
pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Whoever has
two wives and favours one of them over the other, will
come on the Day of Resurrection with one of his sides
leaning." Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1141), Abu Dawood
(2133), al-Nasaa'i (3942) and Ibn Majaah (1969).
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb
wa'l-Tarheeb (no. 1949).
Shaykh al-Mubaarakfoori (may Allaah have mercy on him)
Al-Teebi said in his commentary on the words "with one
of his sides leaning", i.e., tilting. And it was said
that this will be in such a way that all the people on
the Day of Resurrection will see him, so this will
increase his punishment.
Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi (4/248).
If a wife sees that her husband is favouring her
co-wife at her expense, or is being unjust to her with
regard to her rights, she should hasten to advise her
husband in the way that is best, and remind him of
what Allaah has enjoined of justice, and what Allaah
has forbidden of injustice. She should also hasten to
advise her co-wife not to accept this injustice, and
not to take anything that is not rightfully hers.
Perhaps Allaah will guide him to be just and to give
each one her due rights.
One aspect of justice between co-wives is for the
husband to draw lots if he wants to travel with one
wife and not the other(s). This is what the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did with
It was narrated that ‘Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased
with her) said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wanted to go out
on a journey, he would cast lots between his wives and
the one whose name was drawn, he would take her with
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2454) and Muslim (2770).
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This
shows that if a man wants to travel with one of his
wives, he should cast lots between them. In our view
this casting lots is obligatory.
Sharh Muslim (15/210).
Ibn Hazm (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is not permissible for him to choose one of his
wives to travel with him except by drawing lots.
Something similar was said by al-Shawkaani (may Allaah
have mercy on him) in al-Sayl al-Jiraar (2/304).
When he comes back from his trip, he should not count
the period of his trip for the wife who travelled with
him as the result of drawing lots.
‘Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
When he comes back from his journey, he should resume
the division of his time among them, and he should not
count the days of the one with whom he travelled. The
hardship that the wife who accompanied him went
through as the result of travelling is in return for
the time she got to spend with him.
If it is assumed that one of his wives was not able to
travel with him, it is pointless to include her in
drawing lots, when she is unable to travel with him.
In that case, lots should be drawn among those whose
circumstances allow them to travel, and lots should
not be drawn between those who are able and those who
are not. But this is based on the assumption that this
is the truth and not just an illusion or based on
mistreatment of her, such as if she is sick or she has
children and cannot leave them without someone to look
after them, or she is not allowed to travel, and other
such reasons, and it is not because he wants the other
wife to travel with him and not the first one.
Otherwise he is being unjust.
In this case he has to try to please both wives, even
if it means making it up to the one who is not
travelling by spending extra time with her when he
comes back from his trip.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him)
Al-Qurtubi said: That varies according to women's
situations, and the prescription of drawing lots
applies only if their situations are the same, lest
one of them go out with him without a reason to make
him take her and not the other(s).
Fath al-Baari (9/311).
Dr. Ahmad al-Rayyaan said:
If the wives' situations are the same in all aspects,
then drawing lots is a must. But if his wives differ
in that, there is nothing wrong with choosing, so long
as he pays attention to the principles of not
favouring one of them and not aiming to cause harm.
Ta'addud al-Zawjaat (p. 71).
We do not know of any site that deals specifically
with issues of plural marriage. You can look at our
site, and at other trustworthy fatwa sites which deal
with a lot of questions about plural marriage.
We have compiled a separate section on our site
dealing with issues and rulings on plural marriage,
and you can find it at this link:
And Allaah knows best.
Should he allocate time to a wife
who is menstruating or in nifaas?
Should a man who has more than one wife to
consider his menstruating wife or who has post-natal
bleeding when he divides his time among his wives?.
Praise be to Allaah.
The basic principle is that it is obligatory to divide
his time between both, based on the principle of
justice between co-wives.
But the custom in many countries is that when a woman
gives birth, she stays with her mother for forty days
or less, so that her mother can look after her, or her
mother may come and look after her in her own house.
In either case, he is not obliged to allocate some
time to her, and she may agree to waive her right to a
share of his time.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Naasir al-Sa'di (may Allaah
have mercy on him) was asked: Is it obligatory to
allocate a share of time to a wife who is menstruating
or in nifaas?
The well known view in our madhhab (the madhhab of
Imam Ahmad) is that he must allocate a share of time
to each of them, because they are both wives. But the
correct view which should be applied is that the
menstruating wife has a right to a share of his time,
but in the case of one who is in nifaas, she does not
have a right to a share of his time according to
custom and because the woman in this situation usually
agrees to give up that right; in fact in most cases
whilst a woman is still in nifaas she does not want a
share of her husband's time and this is a view in our
madhhab. End quote.
Fataawa al-Mar'ah al-Muslimah (2/693).
And Allaah knows best.
Going to the house of the second
wife on a day or night that is not hers
Is it permissible for the husband to visit
his second wife in a day that is not hers (it is for
the first wife) just to ask how her health is because
she is ill?.
Praise be to Allaah.
If the husband goes out of the house of the wife whose
day it is and goes to the house of the other wife,
that is subject to further discussion:
If it is during the day, and the division is on the
basis of nights, then it is permissible in case of
need, such as dropping things off, handing over money
for maintenance, finding out news, and visiting her if
she is sick and so on, because of the hadeeth of
‘Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) did not favour one of us over another
with regard to division of his time and how long he
stayed with us, and there was rarely a day when he did
not go around to all of us, and he would draw close to
each wife without having intercourse, until he reached
the one whose day it was, then he would stay overnight
with her. Sawdah bint Zam'ah said, when she grew old
and feared that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) would leave her: O
Messenger of Allaah, my day is for ‘Aa'ishah; and the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) accepted that from her. Narrated by Abu
Dawood (2135); al-Albaani said in Saheeh Abi Dawood:
(it is) hasan saheeh.
It is permissible for the husband to be intimate with
his wife when he enters upon her, without having
intercourse, because ‘Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased
with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) would enter upon me
when it was the day of another of his wives, and he
would do everything with me except intercourse.
Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Irwa' al-Ghaleel
He should not stay with her for long, and if he stays
too long he should make it up to the one whose turn it
As for going out to the other wife at night, it is not
permissible except in case of necessity, such as if
she is gravely ill, or giving birth and her
contractions are severe, or there is fear of robbery
and fire; if he stays with her too long then he should
make it up to the one whose turn it is.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: As
for entering upon her co-wife when it is her turn:
If it is at night, it is not permissible except in
case of necessity, such as if she is dying, and he
wants to be with her or she wants to give him final
requests (a will), or something else that is
essential. If he does do that, and he does not stay
long before he leaves, he does not have to make it up.
If he stays and the sick wife recovers, then he should
make it up to the other wife, staying as long as he
stayed with (the one who sick).
If he goes there for something that is not necessary,
he is sinning, and the ruling is that he should make
it up, just as if he went there for a necessary
reason, because there is no point in making up a short
As for entering upon a wife during the day when it is
the turn of another, that is permissible in the case
of need, such as giving her maintenance, visiting her
if she is sick, asking about something that he needs
to know, or visiting her because he has not seen her
for a while and so on, because of the report narrated
by ‘Aa'ishah who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would enter upon
me when it was the day of another of his wives, and he
would do everything with me except intercourse. When
he enters upon her, he should not have intercourse
with her and he should not stay with her for long,
because that means that he has dwelt with her and she
is not entitled to that.
If he stays too long with her, he should make it up
(to the other wife). End quote from al-Mughni (7/234).
Based on that, if the husband's going to the house of
the wife whose turn it is not happens by day, for the
reason that you mention of checking on her, then there
is no sin on him for that, and he should not stay
there for a long time, except in case of necessity. If
it happens at night, it is not permissible for him to
go to her unless it is an emergency, such as if she is
very sick or the wife whose turn it is gives him
permission. If he stays there for a long time then he
must make it up to the other wife, spending as long
with her as he did with (the wife whose house he went
to out of turn).
And Allaah knows best.