Equality Among Wives


I have a question regarding polygamy. What other things besides البيتوتة, that the husband must provide equally to all his wives. Is it necessary in Shariat that he must give Hibah to all his wives equally? e.g. if he buys a R1000 watch and give it as a gift to one of his wives, then will it be Wajib for him to give the same watch (or something of the same value) to his other wives too? What of Nafaqah, if his first wife is from a rich family while his second wife is from a poor family, will the husband have to provide both of their Nafaqah equally?


Regarding this restriction of number of wives and equal treatment towards them, the Qur’an ordains:

 “Marry such as you please, of other women, by twos, threes and fours; but if you apprehend that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then marry one only.” (Qur’an, 4:3) 

It is clear that completely adhering to justice and fairness between wives is quite challenging and it is a heavy responsibility. This is why the Qur’an makes it quite clear that if men doubt their ability to behave equally and justly with their wives, they should suffice with one wife. 

Consequently, polygamy in Islam is a very onerous and high-liability undertaking, something that most men are not competent enough to accomplish. 

Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahimahullah married two wives and implemented unparalleled justice between them, yet in the end he advised that a person should contemplate having a second wife only if it is absolutely necessary. 

Allah Ta’ala says:

“You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it’s your ardent desire.” Quran 4:129

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When a man has two wives and he is not just between them, he will come on the Day of Qiyamah with one side drooping/mutilated”

(Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1141, Sahih Ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 4207, Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 2 pg. 186) 

Sayyiduna Anas (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports, “Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was with one of his wives [Sayyidah ‘Aaishah Radhiallahu Anha] when one of the Mothers of the Believers sent [a servant] with a plate of food. The wife he was with struck the hand of the servant and the bowl fell and broke. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) collected the pieces of the bowl and then gathered the food which had been in the plate and said, ‘Your mother was [overcome] with self-possessiveness.’ 

Then he kept back the servant until a bowl was brought by the wife whose house he was in. He gave the unbroken bowl to the wife whose bowl had been broken and kept the broken one in the house of the one who broke it”
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5225, 2481)

It is mentioned on the authority of Aisha (Radiyallaahu anha): “Rasulullah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to distribute (items, nights etc.) equally and evenly between his wives. Then he would say ‘O Allah this is my distribution in what I have control over; therefore, do not reprimand me concerning what You have control over and I do not.’” By ‘what you have control over’ Rasulullah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) meant love and the inclination of the heart that is beyond one’s control. (Roohul Ma’aani vol. 3/pg. 157 Darul Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah)

 From the above details, one can understand that it is incumbent upon a person to treat his wives equally if he has more than one wife.  Allah Ta’ala declares in the Quran Shareef: 

If you fear that you will not do justice to the orphans, then, marry the women you like, in twos, in threes and in fours. However, if you fear that you will not maintain equity, then (keep to) one woman, or bondwomen you own. It will be closer to abstaining from injustice. (Surah Nisa/verse: 3) 

There are many aspects that need to be clarified, however we will suffice on the basic needs/rights every woman is entitled to and where it is incumbent upon the man to be fair and just: 

Food – The husband should ensure that the necessities for day-to-day living are easily available to both the wives.

Clothing – It is the husband’s duty to provide clothing for both his wives.

Spending the night – He must be equal in the time he spends with each wife and this applies to allocating the night and shelter for that night. 

As for gifts (even though they are not part of maintenance and day-to-day necessities), it is still Waajib to dispense equality and justice in the view of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahimahullah. 

In the case where the one wife is rich and the other is poor then there is no need to dispense equality in Nafaqah. 

However, the precautionary stance is to be equal in all those things which are within one’s control. The inclination of heart is not in one’s control so it is not Waajib to show equal inclination in this respect. In all other matters, one must be very cautious (and try to the best of one’s ability to be just and equal).
[Tafseer Bayaanul qura’an Pg.159/Vol.1 Taj Company]

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.


من نہ کردم شما حذر بکنید“ (اسلامی شادی،Pg:255-253-)

[1] ( يجب ) وظاهر الآية أنه فرض نهر ( أن يعدل ) أي أن لا يجور ( فيه ) أي في القسم بالتسوية في البيتوتة (… والمأكول) – (الدر المختار)لا نعلم خلافا في أن العدل الواجب في البيتوتة ، والتأنيس في اليوم ، والليلة وليس المراد أن يضبط زمان النهار فبقدر ما عاشر فيه إحداهما يعاشر الأخرى بقدره بل ذلك في البيتوتة وأما النهار ففي الجملة ا هـ .
(البحر الرائق

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