What are my rights when my Co-Wife becomes Sick? Q&A

Alexander_Caldcleugh_-_Peruvian_MuslimahQuestion: Assalamu alaikum. My husband became polygamous 3 years ago. He is providing for both families, but I work and contribute to our expenses. He has always shared his earnings equally between his families. Now he tells me my co-wife has cancer and will need treatment and medicines. We live in the US and this will be very expensive. He says he will have to cancel our children’s collegefunds and use them to pay for her treatment, and we will have to cut back on our spending, maybe even move to a smaller house so that he can afford her medicines. I have my own insurance and will never need his money if I get sick. She is only his islamic wife, and has no right to his insurance so he will have to pay cash for everything. Now I am asking, does he have a right to take the money from our children’s collegefunds to pay for her treatment? We have afforded to put money away because of my earnings. Can he give more money to her because she is sick and keep doing it while she needs medicine and treatment? I have tried to study but all I find is that he MUST share his money equally, he can not give her more? I have never found anything else. I would need to be able to tell him that he has no right to take my children’s money and give to her and that he can’t force us to cut back to give money to her. It also is not just, since I have my own insurance and he will never have to spend on me the same way. He also spends more time with her than with me now, because she is ill. Does he have a right to do that? Must he make up for the nights he takes from me? Thank you for answering my question.

Answer: Hello! First of all – I am not muslim. I am not an expert on islamic jurisprudence. I can not pretend to be able to give you an islamically correct answer to your question. I am sorry. I am putting it out here, hoping maybe somebody knowledgable will be kind enough to answer your question from an islamic point of view.

As a woman in polygamy, I’d say he has no right to steal money from your children to pay for his new woman. He must share his money equally. He decided to get another woman, he pay for her. That you have contributed to these funds makes it even more sickening that he would even consider taking the money! Since you live in the US you can simply threaten to take him to court if he takes the money! If you can supply proof of his being a bigamist, there’s no way the court will let him take this money! Also, cutting back is out of the question as I see it. In islam, it is an absolute prerequisite that the husband must afford to provide for all his wives. So let him pay! He must share his money equally. If he can’t afford to keep her, he must divorce her. Simple. The same goes for the time he spends with her. If she is acutely ill, he must stay with her until somebody else can care for her, but he must make up for the nights he takes from you. If she is in hospital she will be taken care of by others, and he can make up for any time he stole from you. When she comes home, he can’t keep taking your nights but must employ somebody to be with her if that is necessary, because he is obliged to share his nights equally. I hope this is of help. And remember: It’s not your job or duty to care for her, help her, feel sorry for her or provide for her. It’s his.

7 thoughts on “What are my rights when my Co-Wife becomes Sick? Q&A

  1. Aren’t you ashamed to begrudge your sister treatment against cancer? Aren’t you ashamed to begrudge her the company of her husband in her illness? This is not about polygamy, this is about basic human decency and about doing to others what you would have them do to you! How can you let your envy and illwill keep your husband from caring for his sick wife? I am ashamed for you.

  2. You know Zach, I have a problem. Most of the times you talk about rights. You claim that a woman’s pain and suffering and emotional turmoil as a consequence of having a husband who becomes polygamous against her will is irrelevant, since it is a man’s right to marry several wives. It is thus not a question of decency but of rights. You also claim that since polygyny is a man’s right in islam, it must be decent and beneficial to all concerned since allah has made it permissible. If it is islamically correct it must be the best thing. Right? Isn’t that what you have been saying all along? Now suddenly, you are talking about decency, not about rights! This wife has only asked what her rights are in islam, and you suddenly say she should be ashamed of herself??? Why??? I do hope somebody with knowledge of islamic law and polygamy can answer her question. It’s a good and relevant question, and I understand why it is so important to this woman. Please show some respect for a wife who is simply asking what is the correct thing to do according to islam!

  3. Zach, in order of your own sentences
    1. no.
    2. no.
    3.Take your own advice
    4.This is not your business
    5.Your shame is misplaced. Focus on the meaning of your own choices.

  4. Personally, I think it is wrong of the husband to ask that the children’s college funds be stopped to save his other wife – this is not the fault of the children and nor should they suffer for it. I agree with you Fiona in what she says too though, her husband is required by his religious laws to EQUALLY split his time, but in all respects she must speak to a scholar or practiced Muslim priest to know what to do in such a situation. Her money and his money that those two have both saved is HERS and hers as a family between her and her husband. Not between not between her, her husband and her co-wife. Any money of hers that she receives, she should do so through her own free will. If the husband can take such a step as to getting into a second marriage, then he should have also understood there is a limit as to which he can ask each wife to sacrifice for the other. He should, himself, be working harder to finance her treatments through his own earnings, because from where I see it, it is not up to his wives to support each other – the husband chose two wives because HE could support BOTH. Put your foot down and let him know the finances you save as a family – stay in the family. If he needs more money, he needs to work harder and earn it. Polygamy wasn’t just thrust upon him. (Just to put it out there, no offence intended, and it’s just my sole opinion on this)

  5. Re-reading that – just to clarify “any money that the co wife receives should be given by the first wife through her own free will”

  6. The children’s money belongs to the husband as head of the family and provider. He can do with them what he seems fit. If the wife has contributed, she has willingly given them up to the husband’s jurisdiction. Since this money is not salary, the husband can give it to the sick wife and the first wife can not object. The husband must share his salary equally. So he can not spend more on the second wife even is she is sick, from his usual salary. But the first wife will be rewarded if she helps her co wife. The first wife can do it as part of charity. The first wife should remember that it is her duty to make life better for her husband and help him, just as it is his duty to help his wives. The first wife should trust that Allah will provide for her children. And Allah knows better.

  7. Salam,

    I would hate my husband for making life more tougher than it needs to be.I would feel routen for not helpimg a sister that is sick,but beside the sister hood of Islam you have no responsibility on her.Just leave this man alone,let him take care of his sick wife,i do not know even know why women allow this kind of treatment. Allah have always given you many choices,just sit down and think what is important for you and your children.This is just ridiculous, I have never heard of such craziness,and abusive lifestyle.What part of I want to marry someone else ,is misunderstand,he just does what benefits him,than do the same.
    salam

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