Big Faith

The show is called Big Love but polygyny really takes Big Faith

Heart to heart

kindness.jpgWhen there are bad feelings between believers, the remedy Sh. Hamza Yusuf shares in his course on Purification of the Heart is to do kind things for the other person or to give him or her a gift. This can cause their heart to incline toward you, which in turn helps your heart to incline toward them. We should do this for the sake of Allah, as an act of ibadah, and insha’Allah it will ease our relations as well as.

Here are some kind acts that a sister can do for her co-wife that can improve, solidify or beautify the relationship between the wives:

Offer to take care of her children while she does her grocery shopping or other errands.

Send a baked treat or some of your meal along with your husband when he goes to her house.

Attend her children’s recitals, plays, soccer games or other activities.

Speak well of her to others.

Send her a little card or note in the mail or email once in awhile.

Have your children make little artworks and, if they’re old enough, sign them as gifts for her on ‘Eid or just anytime.

Ask for her advice or suggestions in an area where she is particularly skilled, such as cooking or sewing or teaching or filling out tax papers.

Take a road trip or a day trip together, either with just you two, with you two and the kids, or ask your hubby if he’d consider taking you all somewhere special for a weekend.

Invite her kids with you when you’re taking your own children somewhere fun.

Pick one day a month to be “kid’s night” and watch her other kids while she spends time with one child alone. She can do the same for you once a month, so that all of your kids get at least semi-regular time to have fun alone with mom. Sometimes we also take out one of the other’s children, especially the older girls.

My cw loves baklava. If I go somewhere where they have it I always try to bring her back some.

Stand up for her if you hear others speaking about her. Sometimes people will “confide” (read: gossip) things about your cw to you. Don’t ever, ever tolerate this. She won’t know you did this but suphan Allah, don’t let others badmouth her – or your husband for that matter.

If you have small children you can take turns going on dates with the hubby. You watch her kids while they go out, she watches yours while you and he go out. Sometimes our husband takes my cw and me out to eat or to a movie together. If this doesn’t make you uncomfortable, try it! It’s great fun, allows for lighthearted communication time and it is hilarious to watch all the people peeking at you, wondering if you’re both married to him.

When my cw orders things from online she sometimes orders a scarf or a second of whatever she’s ordering for me.

If your cw’s kids are school-age and they are selling things as fundraisers for school, always try to order from them if you can.

It’s really cool when both cw’s children grow up together as siblings. We have “camp outs” sometimes where all the small kids get to crash at one of our houses on the living room floor and sleep in sleeping bags. They love this and sometimes drive us crazy begging for camp outs!

Be as concerned about your husband’s fairness to her as you are about your husband’s fairness to you.

If a special night like her anniversary falls on your night, offer to switch with her (be sure to check with your hubby first).

Always, always, always make du’a for her, your husband, both your marriages and all your kids.

Sometimes neither these tactics nor anything else will seem to soften a cw’s heart. If they don’t, that’s OK. Just keep doing them – at least the ones you can. Sometimes all you can do is be concerned with fairness to her and make du’a. If that’s all you can do, do it. If you can do more without upsetting her or your husband, do more. Just be kind to her as an act of ibadah and Allah will bless you in ways you can’t even fathom. It may not come as a direct response to your kindness – you may never break through her wall of resistance. But Allah never suffers the reward of the righteous to be lost.

“…never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;- A reward from the presence of Allah, and from His presence is the best of rewards.” (Al Imran, 195)


April 25, 2007 - Posted by | Coping with polygyny, faith, Islam, marriage, Muslim women, polygamy, polygyny, religion


  1. Salaam,

    I know your site is called Big Faith and masha’Allah, these suggestions are so generous and loving and “big” but I don’t know how realistic some of them would be for the average woman, particularly the ones entailing more contact with the co-wife.

    I can only talk from the point of view of having a friend who has recently acquired a co-wife. The adjustments are enormous and even though she is handling the situation with dignity and making the best of the situation, I am worried to see that it has taken a visible toll on her health as well as sleeping patterns.

    In view of a woman’s natural feelings of jealousy, perhaps a bit of distance between the co-wives would be healthy. After all, each wife is entitled to separate living quarters – it does seem to give a better chance to keeping a good long-term relationship.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to coax our emotions to stay in check as we try with the best of intentions to do things that don’t come naturally to us. Alhamdulillah to those women who can extend themselves to that extent.

    Comment by journeyintolite | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh ukhti. masha’Allah, what wonderful suggestions!!! may Allah reward you for enjoining the Muslimeen upon good. Ameen.

    Comment by polyblessings | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. Journey into lite….After reading this post…I too thought about how difficult some of these things are. But I realized that the author is pointing out ideals….. For myself, I am incapable of these things, only because my CW has this strange streak……so I’ve opted to just fade outta the picture. I mean by having absolutely NO CONTACT with her whatsoever. May Allah make it easier on ur friend….ameen.

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  4. AsSalaamu Alaikum, sisters!

    In some situations these steps are not possible, either due to a sister’s emotional state at the time or due to her co-wife’s attitude, OR due to a husband who forbids contact between his wives, which is another scenario I’ve heard of. In those situations it’s time to rely on du’a! And that doesn’t mean that we’re failing as co-wives or as wives or as Muslimahs! Indeed, it’s usually the times in our life where we have only Allah to rely upon that help us grow the most.

    But life is not static. The situation we’re in at any given moment or the emotions we’re feeling at a particular time won’t last forever. There might be times in the future where a woman can try these or other ideas as ways of reaching out to her co-wife(ves). I remember when my husband and my cw were courting and after they first got married. I told everyone it was the greatest diet plan going! Let your dh marry another wife – you will lose all that unwanted weight b/c you won’t have any appetite! But of course the adjustment period did eventually fade and everyone became more comfortable (and the weight came back, LOL).

    Each situation and each phase of each situation is different. As long as we try our best to please Allah throughout, and ask for His guidance throughout, insha’Allah we will become people of ihsan, ya Rabb, insha’Allah.

    Hugs to you ladies!


    Comment by juwayriah | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  5. masha’Allah ukhti, i was cracking up when you said

    “Let your dh marry another wife – you will lose all that unwanted weight b/c you won’t have any appetite! But of course the adjustment period did eventually fade and everyone became more comfortable (and the weight came back, LOL).”

    let’s just say, i know what you’re talking about. i went for a good month without an appetite subhanAllah. this was during the courting period. the whole anticipation of my husband and sister-wife getting married just was messing with my nerves. but once the deed was done, i was back to normal. subhanAllah, the very thing that was causing me such angst, was also the thing that when actually solidified (i.e. my husband marrying my sister-wife) was a source of relief.

    btw, i sent you an invite to join the Yahoo Group PolygynyPetals. i hope you join!

    Comment by polyblessings | April 27, 2007 | Reply

  6. Asalaamu alaikum.

    AlhamdulAllah, I think these are all beautiful suggestions. For those who think it is “idealistic” or just not possible, I think it does vary from family to family. And it does require some effort; the idea is not to say this is easy but that there are ways you can actively try to make it better when there are discomforts. I had a wonderful relationship with my co-wife in a previous marriage, and I have a wonderful relationship with my co-wife in this marriage. We give each other little gifts frequently, and send cards in the mail and salaams through him. The fact that I insisted on our separate homes is probably part of what makes it easier to be kind to each other. Because we both have our space, our alone time, and our time with him, we don’t feel like we are competing or sharing everything or like we can’t get away from each other. I have to say, in both of my polygynous marriages, my co-wife has been my best friend, and in my current, we don’t even speak the same language! AlhamdulAllah, it can work well.

    Comment by Aaminah | June 21, 2007 | Reply

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