When righteousness touches a woman, one would not hear or see from her anything but good. Such is the righteousness of the early Muslim generations about whom the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, spoke highly, saying: “My generation is the best of generations.” Surely, they were the best generation, men and women, old and young people, and children. Allah The Almighty brought about goodness through them. Look how the woman refused to react in a bad way or say hurtful words; rather, she mentioned that his prayers kept her husband away from her bed, and listed his virtues and good qualities. Even her saying that she did not praise him in matters related to women, may be a fault in the state of perfection, not necessarily a criticism. The man replied that the chapters in the Quran of An-Nahl and the seven lengthy Surahs (Al-Baqarah, Aal ’Imran, An-Nisa‘, Al-Ma‘idah, Al-A’raf, Al-An’am and Yonus) kept him away from her bed and cast fear in him from Allah The Almighty and reminded him of the Hereafter. He, may Allah be pleased with him, said that when he read the Quran, it portrayed the Hereafter to him as if he was seeing it with his own eyes. So, Hell and its chains as well as Paradise and its bliss made him relinquish this temporary enjoyment and transitional delight.
Ka‘b, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “O man, she has rights on you, and you should have intercourse with her at least once every four nights. Adhere to this and do not make excuses.” There is no excuse and a wise man should do so once every four days, because Allah The Almighty permitted the free man to marry up to four women, so each of the four women has the right to one night out of four.
Some scholars have said that it is not obligatory on the man to have intercourse with his wife and this should be left to his activity and strength, but this is limited to four months. If the four months elapsed without intercourse, the husband would bear a sin and would be unjust because four months are the period of Eelaa‘(mourning). In fact, the first opinion, which is having intercourse once every four nights, is preponderant because it is based on a Shari‘ah fundamental. The period of Eelaa‘, which is four months, would be the maximum period in which the man may not approach his wife. After this period, the wife has the right to lodge a complaint against him, particularly if he swore not to have intercourse with her. True, intercourse should be left to the activity of the husband, and a man should not be obliged to excessively have it, as scholars said. They added that if the woman has impediments, such as lack of beauty or that the husband is not inclined to his wife or does not desire her, then the best form of kindness to the wife occurs in this state. This is because the man often has intercourse with his less beautiful wife for the sake of Allah, out of fear from Him and for fulfilling the rights that Allah entitled for the woman. If the man showed this to his wife and tried his best to guard her against prohibition, it would be of a greater effect. If the woman is beautiful, intercourse in this case takes place as a natural tendency and self desire. If the woman is not beautiful, scholars say that the husband honors himself and tries to overcome himself in order to increase his reward.
The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “There is a charity in having intercourse with one's wife.” [Ahmad] The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, informed us that having intercourse with one's wife is considered an act of charity. This encourages the man who has a less beautiful or unattractive wife to remember the goodness and righteousness in her. Perhaps a woman is not beautiful, but she is one of the righteous and devoutly obedient women who guard in the husband's absence what Allah The Almighty would have them guard. Moreover, a man does not know what would have happened to him if he had married a very beautiful woman. She may betray or dishonor him – Allah forbid. Also, a beautiful woman may look at her husband with contempt, thinking that she is more entitled to a more handsome husband. However, Allah The Almighty may favor the woman who is not beautiful with a good mind, religiosity and observance of the Islamic teachings that she appreciates.
There are many unattractive women, but Allah The Almighty compensates them with a good mind. It is commonly known that the more a man lacks beauty, the more Allah The Almighty may distinguish him in his religiousness, mind, wisdom, insight, health or well-being. Allah The Almighty is just and does whatever He wills. He distributes His blessings among His slaves. His is the judgment and there is no one to put back His judgment. The point is that the husband should immediately fulfill his duties, and some scholars said that he should do so even if he is tired or exhausted, hoping for the reward from Allah The Almighty.
Some righteous men get bored with these things, and sometimes they impose on their wives to be in the state of obedience, religious matters and worship. A wife may be busy with religious matters but not give the rights of Allah their due. For instance, an Islamic caller may devote himself to the Da‘wah (call) or a scholar may devote himself to knowledge but this takes place to the detriment of the family and wife. He should organize and manage his time, and should not set out for Da‘wah or travel unless he fulfills the rights of his family so that he has guarded them against prohibitions. He should not leave until he feels that his absence or traveling would most probably not lead them to commit anything unlawful by fulfilling this duty in the most perfect way.
Equal overnight distribution:
The right to equal distribution and overnight stay implies that since it is obligatory on the spouses to fulfill this right, it is not permissible for the wife to decline the request of her husband to share his bed. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “For a woman who declines the request of her husband to bed, the angels curse her until the morning.” He also said: “For a woman, whose husband calls her for intercourse, and she refuses, those in heaven will keep cursing her until the morning.” Therefore, the spouses should observe this right.
This right leads to another issue, which is distribution and equality between co-wives when they are four. The Sunnah of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, outlined this distribution, and we will discuss it in brief. Every wife has the right to one full night, namely, an overnight stay. The guidance of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, regarding the daytime was that he might have visited his wife on a day other than hers; if the night was for another wife, he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would visit the rest of his wives after the ‘Asr Prayer, according to some scholars, particularly if the other wife had children or needed his presence. In that case, he would fulfill their needs and check their affairs.
This distribution was obligatory on him even if he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sick. In the latter case, he would move between the houses. Thus, in the sickness in which he died, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would: “Where will I move to tomorrow?” He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,asked the permission of his wives to be nursed in the house of ‘Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and they agreed and gave him permission. This indicates that equal distribution was obligatory upon him even if he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sick. If a man is severely sick and cannot move to another house, he should ask their permission to be nursed in one of their houses; if they agree, it would be fine; otherwise, he should draw lots as he does in travel.
There are two cases if he wishes to travel:
• There is no problem to take them all, and in this case he would distribute the nights as usual.
• He cannot take them all, and in this case he would draw lots. It was narrated that when the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, intended to go on a journey, he would draw lots to decide which wife would go with him. After his return, the distribution would continue as it was before he left.