Islam permits the muslim man to have up to, but no more than four wives. If he does not feel that he can be just and fair between several women, he is instructed to have only one. He must consider his ability to
divide his time evenly,
to provide separate living quarters for each woman in a way that matches the general standards of the surrounding community, and
to financially provide food and clothing and shelter for all women (and children produced as a result).
“…Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their right upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner. …” [Muslim 2803.1, Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah]
He should also be aware of and prepared for the natural jealousies in women (Aisha said she was “most jealous of all”).
Punishment for not being Fair between Wives
The Noble Qur’an – Al-Ma’idah 4:3
And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphangirls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood #2128, Narrated Abu Hurairah, r.a.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When a man has two wives and he is inclined to one of them, he will come on the Day of resurrection with a side hanging down [i.e. paralyzed].
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 3.130, Narrated ‘Aisha, r.a.
Whenever the Prophet intended to proceed on a journey, he used to draw lots amongst his wives and would take the one upon whom the lot fell. Once, before setting out for Jihad, he drew lots amongst us and the lot came to me; so I went with the Prophet; and that happened after the revelation of the Verse Hijab (i.e. veiling).
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 7.157, Narrated Al Miswar bin Makhrama
I heard Allah’s Apostle (sallallahu aleihi wa sallam) who was on the pulpit, saying, “Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don’t give permission, and will not give permission unless ‘Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me.”
Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood, #219, Narrated Abu Rafi’, r.a.
One day the Prophet (peace be upon him) had intercourse with all his wives. He took a bath after each intercourse. I asked him: Apostle of Allah, why don’t you make it a single bath? He replied: This is more purifying, better and cleaning.
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 9.102, Narrated ‘Aisha, r.a.
Allah’s Apostle used to like sweets and also used to like honey, and whenever he finished the ‘Asr prayer, he used to visit his wives and stay with them. …
How NOT to Seek an Additional Wife
It is not permissible in the Islamic religion for the establishment of a relationship between a man and a woman who is ajanabiyya to him (lit. foreign, i.e., marriagable) before marriage. If he is going to have more than one wife, he still must do it the proper Islamic way – by sitting down to discuss a marriage contract with the woman in the presence of another person; being alone leads to too many physical and emotional temptations. We should fear Allah, swt, who knows what is best for the man seeking a wife. It is best to seek a pious woman, and it is extremely unwise to base a marriage on lust.
The Noble Qur’an – Al-Ma’idah 5:5
…(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girl-friends. …
The Noble Qur’an – Al-Ahzab 33:53
…And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. …
Hadith – Al-Tirmidhi 3118, Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab , Tirmidhi transmitted it.
The Prophet said, “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third.“
The noted scholar Ibn ‘Uthaimeen has stated: It is the right of the woman to make stipulations at the writing of the marriage contract as she wishes and if these stipulations do not contradict Islamic law then the husband must fulfill them. For example, that he not marry a second wife and that if he does to dissolve the first marriage. This is not a problem. However, a new prospective wife cannot stipulate that the first wife be divorced before he marries her. I must say however that a first wife should not make such a stipulation that her husband not marry a second wife. I fear that if a woman makes this stipulation that the husband will, if he desires to marry a second woman, simply divorce the first one straight away [i.e. not even give her consideration] and it would no be to her benefit. Therefore I advise the woman not to make such a stipulation because this may be a manner by which the husband is able to follow a good sunnah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When a man has two wives and he is inclined to one of them, he will come on the Day of resurrection with a side hanging down.