Wives Rather Than Mistresses (Polygamy necessity of the age)


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  • Wives Rather Than Mistresses (Polygamy necessity of the age)


  • Chapter Five

    POLYGAMY NOT LEFT UNCONTROLLED

    Allah, Exalted be He, said, "If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with orphans, marry 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 (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to head you off from doing injustice”.[1]

     

    Interpreting this verse which allowed polygamy, Ibn‑Qatheer said, "If anyone of you has in his custody a female orphan to whom he feared that he should not give mahr (marriage portion) equal to those who are similar to her, he should then do her justice by turning to another woman; Allah has created so many women that he will not be in a loss for one or ones. [2]

     

    Imam Al Bukhari reported ‑ authoritatively – Urwa, son of Al‑Zubair, as having asked his maternal aunt Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, about this verse. She replied by saying, "My nephew, the verse refers to a female orphan who, as being kept in custody, shares her money with her guardian. With her money or beauty tickling his fancy, her guardian wishes to marry her without doing her justice (to give her a mahr equal to the one that would have otherwise been paid to others similar to her).

     

    So, a guardian with such a female orphan in his custody has been forbidden to marry her unless he deals with her on a par with any other woman who is not in his custody by granting her the maximum mahr he would otherwise have given to an equivalent woman. A guardian, in such a position, has been ordered, fearing injustice, to marry as many as maximally four women whom he desires, apart from those female orphans under his protection".

     

    Abu‑Jaafar Muhammad son of Jareer, in his elucidation of the same verse, reported Rabi'aa as saying, "Allah, Exalted be He, ordered his worshippers to leave those female orphans in their custody for any other four women whom Allah has maximally allowed". Abu‑Jaffar has reported other (jurists) as saying, "Marry maximally four stranger women whom Allah has allowed you to marry. In case you fear not dealing fairly with more than one of those strangers, you have either to content yourselves with only one wife or with those female captives in your right hands".

     

    Other jurists said, as still reported by Abu‑Jaafar, "The verse can even be explained as forbidding marrying in excess of four woman so that orphans funds may not be depleted by guardians. A tribesman of Quraish used ‑ in pre‑Islamic times ‑ to marry to the tune of ten women, or more or less of women. Having exhaustively spent his money on his ten wives and thus become a destitute, such a tribesman of Quraish would head for the funds of the orphans in his custody to splurge out on his wives or on marrying new ones. Therefore, Allah has forbidden such a practice".[3]

     

    Al‑Imarn Al‑Nasafy, another great interpreter of the Holy Quran, said, "As reported, men in pre‑Islamic times felt free to commit adultery, but never felt as free to take orphans in their custody. So, Allah told them if you do not really feel free to take orphans in your custody, fearing injustice to them, you had better fear adultery, from which you should keep your genitals by marrying women whom Allah has allowed you to marry and never hover around Allah's forbidden things. Or they did not feel free to take wealthy orphans in their custody, whereas giving themselves an absolutely free hand to keep as many wives as possible, although when they are more than four wives they are more prone to gross inequality being done to them. It is as if Allah were telling them: if you feel hand‑tied to keep orphans in your custody, you should not feel free to do the many wives you keep injustice either; should you fear unfairness as possibly being meted out to those wives, content yourselves with only one wife or, otherwise, take as many female captive slaves possible, so that you may not treat any wife unjustly".[4]

    The meaning carried by Allah's saying in the verse you fear" is as follows:

    If you think you will not, most probably, mete out fairness to the orphan, or orphans, you have in your custody, you have to "swerve" from her to another one. In this context, a control over having many wives is not imperative. In other words, even a guardian who does not fear doing injustice to orphans, he may have more than one wife (second, third or fourth wife) thus doing just as the one who exactly fears injustice.[5]    Allowing polygamy is a general ruling, which applies to all Muslims, with strings attached. As for what Allah said in the same verse "that will be more suitable to head you off from doing injustice", it simply means as the verse says "To head off from injustice", rather than (as others have unsuccessfully interpreted it) "the least not to have so many offspring" (The Arabic word used by Allah in the verse can mean “not to do injustice" or “not to have so many offspring"). Al‑Tabary reported, citing Ibn‑Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn‑Omar, that the Arabic controversial word referred to assuredly means "injustice" and "slanting". The sense of the controversial Arabic word is not "The least not to be poor" either, as the entire sense of the verse does not go right as such. What is widely believed, by Islamic jurists, to be right is "Not to do injustice or to be slanted against what is right".

     

    Never In Excess of Four Wives At One Time

     

    Allah has licensed a Muslim man to marry from one up to four wives, as drawn from the very wording of the verse of the surah of "Al‑Nisaa" (women) and widely‑acknowledged sayings of the great interpreters of the Holly Quran. A Muslim husband cannot have in excess of four wives at the same time; if he fears that he is highly likely not to deal with them on a par with each other, in case of more than one wife, he should content himself with only one. The rule of not doing any injustice applies to a husband of three wives: fearing injustice he should reduce them to only two; a husband of three fearing injustice if he gets a fourth one should content himself with only the three wives he already has.

     

    Wise Shari'aa even bans monogamy if the husband is fearful of doing his only wife injustice. Great Islam is keenly interested in administering justice under all circumstances.

     

    There is consensus among jurists that a Muslim husband may not combine in excess of four wives.[6]    If Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has combined nine wives at one time, this exclusively applies to him; no other Muslim should be analogous to the Prophet.

     

    In the following lines, we will be elaborating on the reason and circumstances leading him (peace be upon him) to marry every one of those wives in order to clarify any relevant confusion or misunderstanding as well as to refute lies mongered by orientalists and Jews alike.

     

    Al‑Imam Al‑Shafii, may Allah be pleased with him, said in his collection of authentic hadiths, "The Prophet's sunna, elaborately explaining what Allah has set forth in general in the Quran, has clarified beyond the slightest doubt that it was Prophet Muhammad alone who was empowered to keep wives in excess of four."

     

    Some Shiite jurists have said that a Muslim husband may combine up to nine wives, interpreting the relevant verse of "Al‑Nisaa" surah as follows: (two + three + four = nine)!! Another queer and unaccepted opinion says that a Muslim husband may combine 18 wives, interpreting two as 2 + 2, three as 3 + 3, and four as 4 + 4, all totaling 18 wives.

     

    However, the very wording of sunna as well as the deeds of companions and followers categorically denote that a Muslim husband may have access only to four wives. Sunni jurists, predecessor and descendants alike, have unanimously agreed that it was exclusively the Prophet who was allowed to have more than four wives.

     

    We refer our readers to the hadiths previously cited in chapter one of this book, including that reported by Imam Al‑Bukhari (also reported by Malik, Nasa'i and Daraqutni) that Ghilan of the Thaqif tribe had ten wives when he embraced Islam. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said to him: "Keep only any four of them you desire and divorce the rest." Another hadith has also been previously cited in chapter one of this book. It is that hadith reported by Abu.‑Dawoud citing Harith son of Qais of the Asad tribe as saying, "When I embraced Islam I had eight wives.  When I so told the Prophet, he said: Keep only four of them."[7]

     

    Ibn‑Katheer, elucidating the verse of the Quran having to do with polygamy, saying, "Allah says marry as many wives as two, three or four if you so wish. Allah, Exalted be He, said (Who made the angels messengers with wings ‑ two, or three, or four), [8] '(2) that is to say that some of those angels have two wings, some have three wings while others have four wings. The context here is that of Allah, the Benefactor, mentioning His boons that He has endowed upon His worshippers, and telling them what He has allowed them to do. So, if Allah had allowed men to combine more than four wives, He would have made it clear in the Quran.[9]

     

    Al‑Imarn Al‑Qurtubi, refuting the alleged permission for men to marry more than four wives, has said, "Those who so claim do neither understand the Quran nor the sunna at all, abandoning what the Muslim nation's ancestors firmly believed in. They claimed that the conjunction ('And) in the relevant verse is an all‑combining one. In fact, it is the jurists who belong to the sect of Rafida, or Rafidites (certain offshoots of Shiite), and some of those associated with the sect of Zahirites (a certain Islamic sect adopting the opinion of taking religious judgments directly from Quran and sunna texts as they are on the surface, even literally, regardless of whatever details, explanations or restrictions jurists of other schools of jurisprudence may have concluded) who have made that highly‑ignorant claim. Some others have gone further to a much worse stretch by alleging that Allah has licensed men to combine eighteen wives. This all is an example of gross ignorance of both language and sunna alike, and flouts the nation's consensus as well, as none of the Prophet's companions or followers who came in subsequent ages was heard of as having married more than four wives."

     

    Having cited all the Prophet's hadiths in which he ordered companions to keep only any four of the wives they had and to divorce the ones in excess thereof, Al‑Qurtubi[10] has stressed that combining nine wives at a time was an exclusively special thing of the Prophet, peace be upon him, with divine direction to fulfil certain objectives for the good of the call and message itself. Then, Al‑Qurtubi has said, "Allah, Exalted be He, has addressed Arabs in the plainest Arabic style. Arabs, eloquent as they were, never said two and three and four when they mean "nine." Arabs completely disagree of an Arab saying: give somebody four, six and eight instead of out rightly saying eighteen. The conjunction "And" in the gracious verse (Two and three and four wives) simply means :instead of two you may marry three, and instead of three you may marry four wives." "If he gets a fifth wife, the marriage spontaneously turns null and void and is even punishable, though scholars have assumed diverse positions on this," Al‑Qurtubi further said. In reply to a question why Allah has not used the conjunction "Or" in the verse instead of "And," Al‑Qurtubi has said, "If (or) had been used, the verse would have meant that a husband of two may not take a third wife, and that a husband of three may not take a fourth one, while all this is permitted.

     

    Capability to Practice Polygamy

     

    As mentioned before, having access to polygamy primarily hinges upon capability. Just as marrying the first wife, marrying a second, third or fourth wife requires financial, health as well as psychological capability. In the lack of capability, polygamy is, automatically, not allowed. He who cannot provide for two households has to suffice himself with only one wife at the center of only one household. A husband of two should content himself with the two unless he is capable, in terms of both finance and health, of keeping a third or fourth wife, and so on.

     

    By finance we mean solvency to provide for the children by the wife, or wives, kept.

     

    Health capability, in our opinion, is the ability to satisfy sexual desires of the wives kept, as its imperative on the husband to cuter for the legitimate and natural sexual desires of his wife or wives. By so doing, he helps his wife, or wives, to be sexually chaste. If the husband is sexually impotent, for example, he is not envisaged as having any wife, even a single one, as this does her gross injustice. We also believe that a husband, or them, sexually potent for only one wife should not have more wives because he is thus doing her injustice, making marriage grossly disadvantageous to her. However, every individual case has to be considered independently of others. A husband's conscience, self‑honesty and religious scruple are apt to dissuade him from inequality to his wife or wives. If, notwithstanding, a husband insists on having a wife or wives whom he is not able to adequately and reasonably satisfy her sexually, the wife (or wives) thus kept has perfect right to proceed against him demanding a divorce on grounds of detriment and a fear of having illegal sexual affair. A court judge is broadly empowered to assess the magnitude of detriment in every individual case.

     

    As to psychological capability, it means an ability to administer justice to the wives kept, in terms of everything available, without showing any slant towards one wife, or his children by her, against the other wife, or wives or his children by her or them.

    In the absence of any of the three capability prerequisites cited above, polygamy is not, by any means, allowed.

     

    Justice Among Wives

     

    Allah, Exalted be He, says in the third verse of "Al‑Nisaa" surah, "But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly, then only one."[11]     Allah, Exalted be He, also says "You are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire, but do not turn away from a woman altogether, lest you should leave her as if she were hanging in the air. If you come to a friendly understanding, and exercise self‑restraint, Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.[12]    So, how can the wording of the two verses of the surah be reconciled? And what are the criteria of the justice required?

     

    In answer, Al‑Imarn Al‑Qurtubi says, "Allah, Exalted be He, has informed His worshippers that justice cannot be meted out to the wives in terms of affection, making love and heart inclination. Allah, Exalted be He, most properly described human disposition, making it perfectly clear that humans cannot, by nature, take command of their hearts slanting heavier towards one or the other. In view of this all, Prophet Muhammad used to fairly deal with his wives in terms of expenses, then said, (0 Allah, this is the way I was able to mete out justice to my wives in terms of what I have control over; so Allah do not blame me for what I do not have control over and which falls only under your control). Then Allah has forbidden excessive turning away from a wife to another by saying (Do not turn away from a woman altogether), namely do not deliberately do her harm ‑ as Mujahid reported ‑ but deal justly in terms of staying overnight and expenses as these two are well under one's control.”[13]

     

    Abu‑Huraira quoted Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as saying, "He who has two wives to whom he had not meted out justice, will be coming on the Day of Judgement slanting on one of his sides."[14] Justice, as mentioned in this hadith, refers only to expenses and staying overnight, rather than in terms of love or heart inclination, as it is Allah who is in full command of human hearts.

     

    Ibn‑Abbas, Ibn‑Jareer, and Al‑Hassan Al‑Basry said that "As if she were hanging" means: do not turn away from her, leaving her neither divorced to get another husband nor married by a husband who will take care of her and meet her legitimate rights.

     

    Qatada has interpreted the word as meaning: do not turn away from her, leaving her as if she were imprisoned. Ubbay son of Qaab, may Allah be pleased with him, would read the verse in Arabic to sound the Arabic word which means "Imprisoned."

     

    Ibn‑Masoud, may Allah be pleased with him, would read the verse in Arabic to sound like "leaving her as if she were hanging." These are all ways of reciting the Holy Quran, only to clarify the meaning; as thus they should not be regarded as a change in the wording of the Holy Quran ‑ Allah forbid...

     

    Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq asserts, "Justice as required by Allah is only the external one of which one is capable, rather than justice in terms of love and affection. No one is capable of the latter; the justice denied is the one having to do with affection, love and making love to."[15]

     

    Muhammad son of Sireen, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Upon asking Ubaida about this verse, he replied: "Justice cannot ever be achieved in terms of love or making love."

     

    Abu‑Bakr son of Al‑Arabi, talking about love and affection in question, has said, "no one can control love. Emanating from the heart, love cannot be taken control of, as it is Allah, the Beneficent, alone who can dispose of humans' hearts. The same applies to making love: a husband may be particularly sexually active with a wife of his, while being less active with another. If he is not so deliberately, he is not guilty. He cannot control his emotion, so he is not so assigned."

    Al‑Imarn Al‑Khatabi has said, "Things should be fairly distributed by a husband to all the wives whom he has, so long as those wives are not captive slaves. Inadvisable is one's inclination towards one wife more than the other, or others, resulting in (material) rights not properly catered for, rather than the inclination of hearts which cannot be controlled."

     

    The deceased Sayyid Qutb, a prominent figure of the Muslim Brotherhood says, "What is really required is justice in terms of dealing, expenses, and sexual intercourse. A husband is not required to give out equal sentiments to them all, as a human being cannot ever do so because it is far beyond the scope of human volition. And this exactly the kind of justice which Allah has described by saying "And you will never be able to deal fairly with them, even if you so ardently desire). This verse is manipulatively used by some as a false pretext to ban polygamy, whereas the verse does not so mean. Allah's Shari'aa is not so jocular to pass and adopt a certain pattern of behavior in one verse and bans it in another; Allah's Shari'aa does not ever give out something with the right hand and take it away with the left.

     

    Justice urged by the verse is in terms of expenses, dealing and making love to. This is exactly the justice without which a husband may not take more than one wife. It applies mainly to external matters which have to be fully catered for by a husband ‑ nothing short thereof ‑in such a way that a wife is not favored by something at the expense of the other, in terms of expenses and making love. A case in point is the splendid example set by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is the mankind's loftiest man. He used to mete out justice, although everyone was perfectly knowledgeable that he loved Aisha better. However, he did not ever prefer her to others in terms of staying overnight or expenses." [16]

     

    In a nutshell, one's heart inclination or love for a wife more than the others should, as we believe, be imprisoned within one's bosom, rather than rendered into action that will hurt the feelings, or undermine the interests, of the rest of his wives or their children in favor of the most beloved wife or her children.

     

    We are, above all, humans rather than angels. Therefore, everybody should be content with justice in terms of matters which are within human control: absolute justice exists only in the Hereafter with Allah, Exalted be He, in Whose presence no one is ever done injustice, while there is no way to compel humans to equally administer feelings and sentiments.

     

    Allah, Exalted be He, will mercifully and justly compensate the wife who does not bask in her hsuband's love or favor. If she is patient and fearful of Allah, she will be generously compensated with whatever is good, both in this mundane world and the hereafter. Being locked in a situation of not basking in her husband's love may be a visitation by Allah to her, for which Allah will reward her on condition that she be patient and obedient to Allah's orders. In this context, we have to remind such a wife that her continued stay with her husband ‑ though not fully enjoying his love, while still having full access to her rights and her children's ‑ is far better to her than abhorrent divorce and total deprivation of all that.

     

    This mundane world is not an eternal one, with ultimately defective and profane amenities. It is there in paradise, rather than on Earth, where there is never‑ending boons and perfect happiness.

     

    In conclusion, if it were true that the verse number 129 of "Al‑Nisaa" bans polygamy ‑ as it has made it categorically clear that administering justice to wives is impossible ‑ Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, together with his companions, would have divorced their wives as soon as the verse had descended, contenting themselves with one wife each. As we have authoritatively been told, none of them had so done ‑ Allah forbid that the prophet or any of his companions would flout Allah's orders to divorce extra wives, if Allah has ever so ordered.

     

    Accordingly, polygamy is truly allowed until the Day of Judgement. In support of this is a hadith which says, "Women are doomed to survive, while men will be so few that every fifty women will have a corresponding one man to control, and take care of".

    This hadith carries a prophecy that will come true in yet other generations to come, and fall within those prophetic traditions dealing with the signs of the then‑approaching Doomsday. It is, however, significant as to our issue of polygamy and the imbalance in the number of the two genders.[17]

     

    Division of time and Money Among Wives

     

    In jurists jargon, the word "division" refers to meting out justice to the wives a husband keeps in terms of staying overnight, expenses and others.[18]   A husband is obliged to equally divide food, staying overnight, clothing and residing among his wives.

     

    All the other material matters have also to be equally divided among them, regardless of the wives being rich or poor, of high class or not. If a husband fears injustice and inability to fully cater for their rights, he is not empowered to combine more than one wife.[19]

     

    What really counts as far as expenses are concerned as given preponderance by the followers of Abu‑Hanifa, known in Arabic as Ahnaf ‑ is the solvency or not of the husband, regardless of the wives' conditions. Consequently, all the wives kept by a husband should be equally dealt with in terms of expenses, which naturally involve the upkeeping (providing enough food and water), clothing and housing for the wives. Saying otherwise in apt to trigger off disagreement and to nourish rancor and enmity among the wives and their children by the same husband.

     

    Accordingly, perfect justice has to be dealt out in terms of expenses and altogether material matters. A father, in our belief, should also be keen enough not to make publicly felt his love sentiments of one specific wife, if he loves her better than the others. A husband should be wise and sage enough to protect the entity of the family and to stem any possible disagreement.

     

    Jurists have attached conditions to dividing matters among wives.

     

    The first of such conditions is being the state of mind: a person who is mentally deranged is not obliged to divide among his wives; but an insane wife should have full access to sharing with other wives things dealt out by their husband, on condition that she be tranquil and quiet, not go into fits and be permanently staying in her husband's house for ease, by him, of sexual intercourse with her. Otherwise, she has no right to sharing things.

     

    The second condition attached is being that the husband should be adult. For a wife it is not necessary be pubescent, but she should at least stand sexual intercourse. If the husband is not pubescent and has, consequently, done injustice to one of his wives, it is his guardian who is implicated, simply because it was his guardian who married him off and responsibility has to be blamed on him.[20]

     

    The third condition attached is being that the wife should not be a recalcitrant one. If the wife is disobedient, always exhibiting unwillingness to obey her husband's orders, she has then no right to share her husband, or what he gives out, with the other wives. Sharing spousal care is not draped by any impediment to sexual intercourse, whether this impediment be a wife menstruation, post‑birth bleeding or illness; Or whether this impediment be on the part of the husband, such as illness or impotency. This is because staying overnight with a wife does not necessarily carry sexual intercourse; staying overnight is primarily intended for entertaining, rather than necessarily sexual intercourse. If a husband is so ill that he cannot move, he may stay with whomever he believes will serve and nurse him better.

     

    This judgement is drawn from what Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did when he was taken gravely ill immediately before his death. Having been ill on his death bed, the prophet, peace be upon him, was granted common consent by his wives, may Allah be pleased with them, to stay with his wife Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her. They so did because they realized how much he loved her and how satisfied he was with her nursing him.

     

    Under no circumstances a wife should be deliberately left without sexual intercourse pleading that he does not love her. A situation as such is apt to send her acting perversely and corruptly. If he does not really intend to reasonably and adequately make love to her ‑ in order to make her sexually satisfied ‑ he should inevitably divorce her, and may Allah send her a husband who is better than he is, and send him a better wife than she is.

    There is a sound opinion that a wife has perfect right to have her husband staying with her overnight every four nights, on the grounds that a husband can keep four wives. It is exactly the same right granted to a monogamist who is preoccupied with worshipping or work, in which case he has to stay overnight with his wife every four nights, while devoting his three other nights to worshipping.

     

    And there is also the most probable verdict cited before, urging a husband that he should have sexual intercourse with each of his wives reasonably and adequately to make her sexually content and distract her from thinking of any other man.

     

    Hanifites, or the followers of Abu‑Hanifa, believe that a judge ‑ if the wife proceeds against her husband ‑ should pass a ruling in favor of the wife being slept with every now and then in the way he deems sufficient to make her sexually abstinent.

     

    Malikites, or the followers of Imam Malik, believe that a husband is forbidden to intentionally abstain from having sex with one of his wives, during her allotted time, on the grounds of saving his strength and vigor for sleeping with another one whom he enjoys better. So, if he is staying with the allotted one and felt sufficiently sexually excited to have sexual intercourse, but he did not, to keep his energy for the most beautiful wife, he is considered guilty. He is sinful because his willful delay of sexual intercourse is rightly believed to exact a heavy toll on the allotted one, even if she is neither actually harmed nor did complain.

     

    A husband may also share things equally with his wives in accordance with his condition: if he works diurnally, he should share his time with them nocturnally; if the other way round' in case he be a watchman for example, he should share time with them diurnally. Every wife can have, for example, a night or day or two days or nights. He may also share time with them as follows: every wife a solid week or more, on condition of getting their common consent, though this opinion is diversely elaborated by various schools of fiqh[21] (jurisprudence).

     

    A husband is forbidden to have sexual intercourse with anyone apart from the allotted wife for that night nor is he allowed to kiss another one apart from her. However, he can have access to the residence of his wife, or wives, who is not, or are not, allotted for that day or night if necessity should arise or if she, or they, needed expenses, wanted him to come to see the children or to do them any indispensable need.

     

    Hanbalites, or the followers of Ibn‑Hanbal, believe that division among wives should be on the basis of only one night each and nothing in excess for any of them unless they so commonly consent.

     

    Spending the night with anyone of them, a husband may, as usual, go out to mosque for praying as well as leave her to honor a promise, fulfil a duty or the like. Nevertheless, he may not deliberately go out more often during the night or day of the allotted one than the nights or days of the others. If he so does, he will be dealing injustice out to her (unless she otherwise consents).

     

    Hanbalites do make an additional curious ruling: a husband may not have access at night to any other wife except for the allotted one unless she is in deep distress, such as being on her death bed and wishing to make a will, or the like of only grave matters. By day, he may have access to the unallotted one (whose turn has not yet come) for doing something urgently, on condition that he should not stay long with her; if he stays longer, he should compensate the allotted one ‑ with whom he should have spent the day ‑ by spending another day with her. If he has sexual intercourse with the unallotted one, he should have sexual intercourse with the allotted one (he should have one more time of sexual intercourse with her in compensation), to the contrary of a verdict formulated by Shafi'ites, the followers of Imam Al‑Shafi'i.

     

    As for getting a new wife, we believe as more highly apt that verdict formulated by Hanifites that all wives, be they old or new, should have equal access to staying with their husband. As well, a virgin or matron (previously married) should also be dealt with on a par with each other. If a husband gets a new wife, whether she be a virgin or matron, he should start his marital life by staying with her: he should spend seven nights with her if she is virgin and three nights if she is matron. His old wives have to be compensated for this period of time he spent with the new one.

    Dealing out justice to wives so requires, as exhibited by Prophet Muhammad's, peace be upon him, sunnah. However, a husband may begin his rotation with his wives with the new one, then give the others their due days or nights in proportion to what he has spent with the new one. A wife may cede her nuptial allotted time to another wife in return for something or without. If she cedes this allotted time to another wife but then made up her mind to go back on it, she is so allowed.[22]

     

    Sawda daugther of Zamaa ‑ a wife of the nine wives kept by Prophet Muhammed at his death, peace be upon him, whose running epithet was, along with them all, "Mother of the Faithful" ‑ has once ceded her allotted night to Aisha, another "Mother of the Faithful" as she knew the prophet loved Aisha better than he loved her. Sawda has thus set the most splendid example of selflessness, nobility and generosity, preferring to please Allah and His apostle to this profane world, contenting herself with the fact that she will be resurrected among the prophet's wives ‑ and suffice be it a blessing.

     

    In case the husband plans to travel, a distinction should be made between leaving one's place for another to settle down (like leaving rural areas for Cairo or Alexandria, or even leaving a country for another for good), one the on hand, and transitory travel for some time after which a husband will come back home where his wives are residing, on the other.

     

    If the husband is travelling to another country for finally settling down, he should, if possible, take all of his wives, or he should, instead, draw a lot among them to take the winning one for some time and then bring her back for another one to go, and so on. If it is difficult to do so either, he has, inevitably, to divorce the one whom he does not want and retain the one whom he wants to have with him where he will be settled for good. The case in question is not precisely travelling for work or for tourism, but it is rather final emigration. Therefore, he may not desert some of his wives and take the others unless they commonly give consent which is almost impossible as an unwanted wife will lose her husband, once and for all, if he so leaves.[23]

     

    If travel is temporary for trade, haj (pilgrimage), calling for Islam in a non‑Muslim nation, medical treatment, tourism or others, the verdict we deem as apter is that a husband should draw a lot among his wives to identify the one to accompany him. The period of this temporary travel should not be reckoned as within the calendar of the wives: it is exclusively the share of the one who has won the lot and the other wives are not to be compensated for after travel.

     

    If a wife travels alone, she should not be compensated for what she has missed during her absence. If all wives go with their husband, he should share his time with them as he used to do in his earlier country.

     

    And finally, may a husband have all of his wives one place?

     

    Jurists believe that if the husband's house has many flats or it is a multi‑story house, with each of those flats or stories having a private door and utilities which are perfectly independent of the rest of flats (a private toilet, kitchen, a place for a clothes line), the husband may rightfully combine all of his wives in such a house, even if they do not consent individually. What counts is that each of the wives will have a privately independent flat in isolation of the others.[24]

     

    If the house has a residence which has only one door which hinges into a single room or even a set of rooms, with a shared toilet and kitchen, a husband may combine all of his wives as such only when they all give consent. The same rule applies when they are all travelling and have to stay in one room or the same tent (as if travelling for haj, for example) in which case they can be combined by a husband, whether they so consent or not (a case in point is the crammed tents of pilgrims at Minna and Arafat).

    Malikites have made a fatwa (religious judgment) that a man making love to a wife while the other wife, or wives, is, or are, watching is "haram" ‑ a term used by jurists to brand anything which is not permitted at all by religion and which carries a punishment by Allah for anyone doing it ‑ rather than just "disapproved of".

     

    Sleeping with a wife in front of the others is not permitted under any circumstances, whether the wife being slept with is fully exposed to the others or not.[25]  We fully support this sound verdict by Malikites. In fact, sexual intercourse as such is not permitted from the humanitarian viewpoint, as it hurts the sentiments of other wives, and ridiculously arouses instincts and rancor among them. It also trespasses on the decency of the one with whom the husband is sleeping in front of the others.

     

    Man, whom Allah has honorably created, presumably diverges widely from dumb animals, and, keeping this divergence in mind, sound and unblemished human nature rejects sexual intercourse as done in such a way as in front of others. Even some animals, like cats, can impossibly copulate with each other while being closely watched by human, or even closely without seeing them. And "Exalted be He who has given to each created thing its form and nature, and has further given it guidance".

     

    We also believe that a husband may step up the expenses of one wife than the other, or others, under certain circumstances, including having more children than the others. For example, if a husband gives a wife having five children six loaves, while giving the one with three children four loaves, he will not, axiomatically, be dealing out inequality to either of them. This division is exactly the core of justice, as it takes into account that every individual will have a loaf. Consequently, if one of the wives is gravely ill and needs medication, the other wives should thank Allah for having good health and need not request that the; be paid a corresponding sum of money as the ill one receives from a husband for medication.

     

    If a wife‑to‑be attaches a string, when concluding the marriage contract that her would‑be husband should not take another wife in addition to her, the husband should observe the condition by not marrying anyone unless the first wife consents and cedes the condition attached. A hadith by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reads, "The conditions which most deserve to be fully met are those which are attached to marriage." The hadith, as reported by both Al‑Bukhari and Muslim, obviously urges that conditions attached to marriage are the ones, which deserve most to be respectfully fulfilled.

     

    [1] Verse three of the surah of "Al‑Nisaa" or Women, the Holy Quran.

    [2] "The Interpretation of the Great Quran", by Ibn‑Qatheer. The elucidation of verse three of the surah of "Al‑Nisaa" or Women.

     

    [3] Please refer to "Jamiul Bayan Fi Tafseer Al Quran" by Ibn‑Jareer Al‑Tabary, the chapter on the interpretation of the surah of Al‑Nisaa.

    [4] The interpretation of the Holy Quran by Imam Al‑Nasafi, the chapter on the surah of Al‑Nisaa.

     

    [5] Fiqh Al Sunna", by Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq, volume 2, the chapter on the family system, edition published by Maktabatul Muslim.

    [6] Sayyid Sabiq, op cit.

     

    [7] Please refer to chapter one of this book, which deals with pre‑Islam polygamy.

     

    [8] Verse number one from the surah of "Fatir", or the Originator of Creation.

    [9] Ibn‑Katheer's book on the interpretation of the Quran, previously referred to.

     

    [10] Al‑Imam Al‑Qurtubi in his book "The Book All Inclusive of the Holy Quran Provisions".

     

    [11] Verse number 3 of Al‑Nisaa surah.

    [12] Verse number 129 of Al‑Nisaa surah.

     

    [13] Al‑Imarn Al‑Qurtubi in his book "The Book All Inclusive of the Holy Quran Provisions", the chapter on the interpretation of verse 129 of "Al‑Nisaa" surah.

     

    [14] The hadith was reported by Abu‑Dawoud, Al‑Nasa'i, Ibn‑Majah and Al‑Termidhy.

     

    [15] Fiqh Asunnah", by Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq, volume two, the chapter on family system.

     

    [16] "In the Shades of the Holy Quran", by Sayyid Qutb, volume one, edition published by Darel Shrouk publishing house.

     

    [17] This hadith is reported by Al‑Bukhari, Muslim, Al‑Termedhy, Al‑Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.

     

    [18] "Islamic Fiqh Along the Four Schools of Fiqh", volume 4, the chapter on personal status.

     

    [19] Fiqh Asunna". BV Sheikh Savvid Sabia. volume two.

     

    [20] Fiqh Along the Four Schools of Fiqh", volume four.

     

    [21] Fiqh Along the four Schools of Fiqh", volume four.

     

    [22] The previous reference.

     

    [23] The previous reference.

     

    [24] The previous reference.

     

    [25] The previous reference.

     

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