Division of overnight stay between co-wives
Fatwa No: 347473

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. If one has two wives, can he distribute his time between them in the following manner: he will stay one week/one month with one wife in her allocated home and not meet the other wife in this period. Then he will spend the same number of days with the other wife. When staying with one wife in this manner, can he be in regular contact with the other wife via calls and texts?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

The ruling in this regard differs according to whether the two wives live in one country or in two different countries. If they live in the same country, the husband is entitled to spend one, two, or three nights with each wife in turn. It is impermissible for him to spend more than three nights in a row with one of his two wives without the consent of the other wife.

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

The husband should spend alternate nights with each of his wives, one night with each in turn. If he wishes to spend more than one night with any of them, then that is not allowed except with their consent. Al-Qaadhi held that the husband may spend two nights with one wife and two with the other, or three and three, and it is impermissible to spend more than three nights in a row with one of his wives except with the approval of the others. The preferred arrangement is to alternate spending one night with each in order not to be away from any of them for long. It is also permissible for him to spend three nights with each wife in turn ... This is the scholarly view of Ash-Shaafi‘i. As for our view (Hanbali), the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, divided his time between his wives by spending one night with each of them. Since the husband who has more than one wife is obliged to observe justice and equality among his wives in terms of overnight stay, it is allowable for him to spend one night with each wife as a minimum because it is difficult to divide one night between them. If he spends one night with any of his wives, it is incumbent on him to spend the following night with his second wife, and it is prohibited for him to spend the second night with his first wife except with the consent of his second wife.

Based on the second possibility (each wife lives in a different country), there is no harm if the husband spends one month with each of them or the like in turn according to his circumstances. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

If a husband has two wives in two different countries, he has to be just between them in terms of overnight stay as he has chosen to make them distant from each other, and this does not waive their right over him. He is obliged either to travel to the distant wife when it is her turn or to bring her to the country where he is staying with the other wife. If she refuses to come though she is able to do so, then she loses her right due to her disobedience. However, if he wants to be just between them while each one of them is in her own country and it is difficult for him to stay overnight equally with each of them, then he may set an amount of time for each of them according to his ability. For instance, he may stay one month with one wife and another month with the second, or set a time of more or less than that according to his ability and according to the distance between the two countries.

It is allowable for the husband to check upon his other wife and call her or come to her door without entering. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “As for entering upon a wife during the day when it is the turn of another, it is permissible for a need such as giving her money for her expenses, 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; ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated, The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would enter upon me when it was the day of another of his wives, and he would do everything with me except intercourse.’” [Ash-Sharh Al-Kabeer]

Allah knows best.

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