Equality Among Wives
(From Beheshti Zewar)
1. If a person has more than one wife it is wâjib upon him to treat each one equally. Whatever he gives to one wife, the other wife also has the right to claim something equal to that in value. This rule of equality applies to all types of wives, i.e. whether both were virgins at the time of marriage, both were previously married or one was a virgin at the time of marriage while the other had been previously married. If he spends one night with one wife, he will have to spend one night with the other wife as well. If he spends two or three nights with one wife, he will have to do the same with the other wife as well. Whatever wealth, jewellery, clothes, etc. he gives to one wife, the other wife also has the right to claim something equal to that in value.
2. If a person marries a second woman, the rights of this new wife and the rights of the old wife are the same. There is no difference in rights between the two.
3. Equality is based on spending the night and it is not necessary to spend an equal time with them during the day. If a person spends more time with one wife during the day and less time with the other, there is no harm in this. However, it is wâjib to spend an equal time with them at night. If a person goes to one wife immediately after maghrib, and the following day he goes to the other wife after ‘ishâ, he will be sinning. However, if a person’s occupation is such that he works at night and remains at home during the day; for him, the basis of equality will be the day. For example, a night watchman or guard will have to base his equality with his wives according to the day and not the night.
4. There is no equality in engaging in sexual intercourse in the sense that if a person engages in sexual intercourse with one wife, it is not necessary for him to engage in sexual intercourse with the other wife as well.
5. The man has to maintain equality in allocating nights to his wives irrespective of whether he is ill or not.
6. There is no sin in loving one wife more than the other because these matters are connected to the heart and one does not have any control over one’s heart.
7. Equality is not wâjib when embarking on a journey. The husband can take whichever wife he wishes. However, it is preferable to cast a lot and to take the wife in whose favour the lot was drawn. In this way there will be no unhappiness or disgruntlement.