4

In 4:3, it says per the Sahih International translation:

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].

This can easily be understood as a reminder to men who want to marry multiple wives that they have to treat their wives equitably. However, if there is no way for the wives to enforce this, it can easily fall flat. This leads to the questions:

  • What constitutes "injustice" among multiple wives? Please make sure to elaborate on general, yet specific enough rules, not just concrete example situations.
  • What can a wife who feels she is being treated unjustly compared to her co-wives do to force her husband to correct this? Is it grounds for obtaining a divorce, can she legally force him to change his behavior while staying in the marriage, is there payment she can demand; what legal rights does being treated unjustly by her husband give her?
  • 1
    with respect, I counted six questions in your post, and each of them requires quite an explanation. It would be nice to divide your post to multiple questions or concentrate on one question at a time. – Seeker Mar 6 '17 at 6:18
  • @Seeker The second bullet point contains only one actual questions, the others are meant to explain what kind of answer I'm looking for with that question. – G. Bach Mar 16 '17 at 18:58
2

Quran:

4:129 And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

4:130 But if they separate [by divorce], Allah will enrich each [of them] from His abundance. And ever is Allah Encompassing and Wise.

Hadith:

Aishah narrated that: The Prophet would divide (his time) equally between his wives and said: "O Allah! This is my division in what I have control over, so do not punish me for what You have control over which I do not have control over." [ Abu Daud , Ibn Majah, Nisai, Tirmizi]

A’ishah wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) reported “When the Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) intended to go on a journey he cast lots amongst his wives and the one who was chosen by lot went on it with him. He divided his time, day and night (equally) for each of his wives except that Saudah daughter of Zam’ah gave her day to A’ishah. [Abu Daud]


What constitutes "injustice" among multiple wives?

Scholars are of the opinion that a man must divide his time, finances and other resources equally between his wives and he would be accountable for that.(1)


What can a wife who feels she is being treated unjustly compared to her co-wives do to force her husband to correct this?

Talk to the husband and consult a marriage therapist.

A woman can obtain divorce(Khul) from her husband for any valid reason including simple dislike, an Islamic court or judge will enforce it. Equal treatment and provision are obligatory rights(2) and their lack of fulfillment are valid reasons for Khul(3) .

The wife of Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! I do not blame Thabit for any defects in his character or his religion, but I am afraid that I (being a Muslim) may become unthankful for Allah's Blessings." On that, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said (to her), 'Will you return his garden to him?" She said, "Yes." So she returned his garden to him and the Prophet (ﷺ) told him to divorce her. Sahih Bukhari

  • Thanks for the references. "A woman can obtain divorce(Khul) from her husband for any valid reason including simple dislike, an Islamic court or judge will enforce it." This is the first time I hear that simple dislike would be enough to grant khul, do you know how widespread this opinion is, and how readily available khul for this reason is? My knowledge of Islamic authorities handling khul cases makes me doubt this is representative. – G. Bach Mar 7 '17 at 12:12
  • @G.Bach The Hadith quoted above is clear, you may see the variations in the Book of Divorce of Sahih Bukhari and its clear that the woman simply disliked the husband, and the prophet ordered the husband to divorce her. Scandals about Khul are usually about whether a court can force it when a Husband refuses ... in the only case in Hadith, the Prophet didn't ask the Husband for consent, He simply ordered him to do it. Among the scholars of the Ahl ul Sunnah, the Malikis hold the view that a court can force the Husband's hand ... whereas most others say that the court can't interfere. – UmH Mar 7 '17 at 16:57
  • An interpretation of khula as being without the husband's consent is something I have never seen; can you give references for this? The hadith you cite comes up in discussions around this a lot, yet I'm not aware of any scholars who use it to rule that the husband's consent is irrelevant. For faskh yes, but does simple dislike qualify for faskh? – G. Bach Mar 9 '17 at 15:07

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