The division of time between wives in a plural marriage (Bulūgh Al-Marām): Explanation by Shaikh Al-Fawzān

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Al-Hāfidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullāh) said:

The Book of Division Between The Wives

1055: A’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) said:

“Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would divide his visits to his wives equally and say: “O Allah, this is my division concerning what I possess, so do not blame me concerning what You possess and not me.”

(Hadeeth reported by the ‘Four’ books of Sunan; Ibn Hibbaan and Al-Haakim graded it as saheeh (authentic). At-Tirmidhee held the view that it is mursal (i.e. a tābi’i narrating from the Prophet))


Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would divide his time between his wives and he would be just – and in that he would not give preference to one over another – and it was known that he loved some of them more than others. He loved ‘A’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) more than the others. Yet he would still not give her more than her allotted division of time – he was indeed a fine example for his nation (Ummah).

This hadeeth highlights the fact that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) had no possession over the actions of one’s heart – rather that is in the Hand of Allaah (the One free of all imperfections, the Most High). So the hearts are in the Hand of Allaah (the One free of all imperfections, the Most High) and He is the turner of the hearts – and no one else can turn the hearts. For this reason, Allaah said:

“He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers. And He has united their (i.e., believers’) hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them. Certainly, He is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Al-Anfaal 8:62-63)

1056: Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) narrated that Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

“Anyone who has two wives and then inclines to one of them will come on the Day of Resurrection with one side of his body deformed.”

(Reported by Ahmad and the four books of Sunan, and its chain of narration is saheeh (authentic)).


In this narration, there is a threat for the one who shows favouritism and inclines towards one of his wives and transgresses the rights of another. So whoever has two wives and then inclines towards one of them in terms of division and gives preference to one over the other in nights (where he sleeps), in maintenance (provision), in clothing, in accommodation or in any single one of these four matters, then Allah will punish him by exposing him and unmasking him on the Day of Resurrection. So he will come at the Gathering Place deformed on one side―meaning that he’ll be afflicted will paralysis as a punishment, and the recompense for a person is in accordance with his deeds.

If only the husbands paid attention to this―many women do not complain about the oppression and transgression of their husbands. These husbands believe that they are free to do as they please whilst they are heedless. They do not think that Allah is watching them and will call them to account. They believe that if they overpower the wife and she is silenced, then her rights are lost. No! Her rights are not lost, rather they are preserved and protected – Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) postpones but he does not disregard [the transgressions of bad husbands]. So whoever mistreats his wife and does this will come on the Day of Resurrection deformed on one side as a punishment – and this is a severe threat. Allah, the Majestic and Most High, said:

“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].” An-Nisā: 3

That is because one wife will accept what you do – however, if there are multiple wives and you incline unjustly towards one of them, then they will not be pleased.

1057: Anas (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said:

“It is from the Sunnah that when a man who already has a wife marries a virgin, he should spend with her seven nights, and thereafter divide the time between them equally. And if he marries a formerly married woman, he should spend with her three nights and thereafter divide his time equally between his wives.”

Al-Bukhāri and Muslim, and this is the wording of Al-Bukhāri.


The Shareeʿah has not left a thing without explaining it to the people and ruled upon it. So if a man marries a new woman whilst he is already married to a woman or women, then the Legislator (Allah) has placed limits because Allaah knows that the groom will incline towards his new wife (initially), and will be happy with her―so the Lord and Legislator has not closed affairs upon a man and made forbidden joy and He also not given him free-reign to oppress the other wives. Rather He has placed around the husband limitations. So if he marries a virgin, he remains with her seven nights so that he (and her) may find enjoyment and happiness. And also because the virgin is a stranger to marriage and she has left her family so she needs company, friendliness and comforting. So in this, there is a benefit for the husband and the wife. Then he divides his time (as normal) between the rest of his wives after the seven nights. And the new wife becomes like the rest of his wives and thus receives her division.

If he marries a maiden (a formerly married woman) – and this refers to a woman who was previously married to another man and had intimate sexual relations with him. With this wife, he spends three continuous nights upon marriage. Thereafter he divides his time equally between all his wives. This is because she is familiar with being married and having a husband. So three nights suffice her. So this is the justice that Islaam has come with – and Islaam does not prevent a husband from taking pleasure from his new wife (and her from him). He does not show bias against the rest of his wives by abandoning them for a lengthy period when taking on a new wife, as that will cause them harm and hurt them.

1058: Narrated Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā): When the Prophet (salallāhu’alayhi wasallam) married her, he stayed with her for three nights and said:

“You are not being humbled (or lowered) in the estimation of your family (i.e. the Prophet). If you wish, I shall stay with you for seven nights, and if I stay with you for seven nights, I shall do the same with my other wives.”

Reported by Muslim.


Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) is Hind bint Abee Umayyah Al-Makhzoomiyyah, the noble and great female Companion. She was previously the wife of Abu Salamah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā). He died whilst in Madinah. After that Allaah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) married her. Both Abu Salamah and Umm Salamah were Muhaajiroon (those who migrated from Makkah to Madinah). Furthermore, they performed two migrations: They first migrated to Abyssinia, and then they migrated to Madinah. And the Messenger of Allaah (salallahu ʿalaihi wassallam) married her after the death of Abu Salamah and she was, therefore, a maiden (thayyib) and she had children. After the wedding, he spent three nights with her. Then he said to her: “You are not being humbled (or lowered) in the estimation of your family.” The family here refers to her husband, and he is the Messenger of Allaah. A husband is considered as the family of the wife, and the wife is considered as the family of the husband. So they are family to one another.

“If you wish, I shall stay with you for seven nights, and if I stay with you for seven nights, I shall do the same with my other wives.” This is from justice. If he increases beyond what is due to her as her right of three nights then he will make up similar days with the other wives. That is because her right is only three consecutive nights. If he increases beyond that, then it becomes obligatory upon him to confer upon all of his wives the same because after the three nights she becomes (in division) like the rest of his wives, and thus he must maintain justice between them.

Adapted from volume 4: Kitābun-Nikāh (The Book of Marriage) from Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān’s explanation of Bulūgh Al-Marām min Adillatil-Ahkām of Al-Hāfidh Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalāni (born 773H, died 852H), entitled Tas-heel al-Ilmām bi-fiqhil-Ahādeeth min Bulūghil-Marām and is printed in seven volumes.

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  1. If a husband marries a second wife that and they agree that she’ll be getting less time he spends and everything including accommodation.
    The husband lives in a different continent with his first wife which is his main living location and the second is wife is somewhere the husband doesn’t go as much.
    Is this acceptable?

    • She should not have agreed to such an arrangement… And her guardian should have given her better advice… but if she agreed to it, then there is no point in complaining about that now.

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