Fatwa: 173

Category: fatwas about marriage

Equity towards one’s two wives

The question:

What is the ruling regarding a man who has two wives, and he is unjust towards them?

The answer:

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

If a woman has a co-wife, the husband should be fair towards them all regarding expenses in general: by providing them fairly with food, drink, dress and housing, in addition to their right to bed. He should not be unfair or unjust concerning expenses whatsoever, because Allah تعالى says:

﴿فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُوا﴾ [النساء: 3].

The meaning of the verse:

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﴿ [An-Nissâ' (The Women): 3].

The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم says, “When a man has two wives and he is inclined to one of them, he will come on the Day of resurrection with a side hanging down”(1).

The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم also recommended us to deal kindly with women. He says, “The best one among you is the kindest towards his wife [or wives], and I am the kindest among you towards my wives”(2).

In addition to the obligation of dealing justly with them, he should live with them honorably and kindly, according to the saying of Allah تعالى:

﴿إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ﴾ [النحل: 90].

The meaning of the verse:

Verily, Allâh enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allâh Alone – Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsân [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allâh, totally for Allâh's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم in a perfect manner], and giving (help) to kith and kin[] (i.e. all that Allâh has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.)﴿ [An-Nahl (The Bees) : 90]. He also says:

﴿وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ﴾ [النساء: 19].

The meaning of the verse:

And live with them honourably﴿ [An-Nissâ' (The Women) : 19].

These are in fact among the rights that the woman has over her husband.

This being said, among also the aspects of justice towards one’s wife is to sleep with her in the same bed, even if there is no intercourse, because it is unanimously agreed, by scholars, that equity concerning sexual intercourse is not obligatory(3), as the latter depends on desire, love and inclination. Therefore, it is not possible to be equal towards them in terms of intercourse, because the man’s heart inclines necessarily to one of them. For this reason, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said, when he was asked about the most beloved person for him, “It is `Â'isha”(4).

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

Algiers, Dhu Al-Hijja 9th, 1426 H.
Corresponding to January 9th, 2005.

(1) Reported by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Marriage” (hadith 2135), Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Marriage” (hadith 2045), Ahmad (hadith 8156), Ad-Dârimi in his “Sunan” (hadith 2261), Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 15135) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Irwâ’ Al-Ghalîl” (7/80),(2017).

(2) Reported by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Merits” (hadith 4269), Ad-Dârimi (hadith 2315), Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 16117) on the authority of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها. It is also reported by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Marriage” (hadith 2053) on the authority of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما. It is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Sahîh Al-Jâmi`” (hadith 3314), in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 285) and in “Âdâb Az-Zifâf” (p.197).

(3) See “Al-Mughni” by Ibn Qudâma (9/618).

(4) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “The virtues of the Companions” (hadith 3662), Muslim, chapter of “The virtues of the Companions” (hadith 6328), At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “The virtues” (hadith 4259) and Ahmad (hadith 18286) on the authority `Amr Ibn Al-`Âs رضي الله عنهما.

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