Thursday, 6 October 2011

Obligation of treating co-wives fairly and some of the rules on travel for men with more than one wife


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”

[al-Nahl 16:90] 

Ibn Jareer al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

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 Hereafter. 

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 Muslim (2577). 

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 injustice”

[al-Nisa’ 4:3] 

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

“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) said: 

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
his wives.  

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 him.

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. 

Al-Muhalla (9/212). 

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. 

Al-Tamheed (19/266). 


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

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) said: 

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

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.

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