Covid & Polygamy: Pick a Wife’s Name Out of a Hat

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Kuwait City’s skyline.

Samir Salama
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: While the general public is busy taking precautions against the coronavirus and abiding by the requirements of the curfew, there is a segment of polygamist men who have fallen into the clutches of another emerging dilemma – sleeping arrangement for their co-wives.

Men in plural marriage are now confused as they go about their life under curfew and decide with which wife they will spend this period. Though it makes sense that a husband under curfew may opt for living with the one he loves most, there is a religious duty that he is able to be fair and just with his wives.

No strain

After all, they should try to make sure that their time is divided equally to avoid jealousy among their wives, so that COVID-19 will not strain their relationship.

With Kuwait enforcing a total curfew running until May 30, Al Rai newspaper took a look at what it’s really like to live in a polygamist family during these difficult times and the fatwa (Islamic edict) about the sleeping arrangements in plural marriage under curfew.

Dr. Ahmad Al Hajji Al Kurdi, member of the Fatwa Committee, an expert in jurisprudence, says that justice in plural marriage is in alimony and good treatment and not in sexual relations and love.

He pointed out that the polygamist husband who had to stay at one of his wife’s place because of the total curfew should give the other wives the freedom to choose between acceptance or divorce.

Prof. Mohammad Abdul Gaffar Al Sharif, former dean of the Faculty of Sharia and Islamic Studies, says according to the Maliki school of jurisprudence it is permissible that the polygamist husband or either of his wives buy time from the affected wife or wives.

Preacher Hai Al Hai, says it is obligatory for the husband in a plural marriage to spend equal time with each wife.

“However, there may be circumstances of fear, travel, or illness, so the husband will have to sleep with one of his wives, and the second, third, or fourth wife must understand the situation of the husband so that he does not suffer harm, disease, or so,” says Al Hai.

‘Equal number of nights’

Al Hai explained that “the Hanafi and Shafi’is schools of jurisprudence went on to say that the husband must compensate this wife (wives) with a number of nights equal to those that were lost from them. “Sharia is fair among wives.”

Dr. Issa Zaki, a member of the Fatwa Committee, agreed with Prof. Al Sharif about buying time from the affected wives.

But he added that a draw can also be made, so that a husband in a plural marriage can pick a wife’s name out of a hat.

Saudi preacher Abdul Mohsen Al Obeikan says the husband continues to live with the woman with whom he was staying when the curfew was enforced, until the curfew period ends, and after the curfew has ended, he compensates the others with the number of nights they have lost.

Former member of parliament Abdul Latif Al Omairi made an appeal to the Minister of Interior and said “Brother, Minister of Interior Anas Al Saleh, there are cases that must be taken into account when enforcing the total curfew, such as a man in plural marriage with each wife has her own house. Permits should be issued for these men.”

 

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