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Monday, July 29, 2013

What is meant by mut`ah (i.e. temporary marriage) and why is it allowed by Shiism?


Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman; it may be either permanent, with no time specified when it is contracted, or temporary and limited in time. However, they are characteristically the same, and are both legitimate, the only difference being that one is “permanent” and the other one “temporary.” They share the other conditions as specified below.

1. There should be no religiously-defined barriers either of blood relation or relationship through marriage; otherwise, their marriage will be invalid.

2. The dowry they both agree upon should be specified in the contract.

3. The marriage duration must already be decided upon.

4. The marriage contract must be religiously concluded.

5. The children born to them are legitimate and lawful; both religiously and officially, just like the children born through permanent marriage.

6. Such children must be financially supported by the father; they inherit from both parents.

7. When the marriage period terminates, the wife must observe the waiting period the Shariah has determined if she has not reached menopause. If she is pregnant, she should not remarry until she has given birth to her child. Other regulations pertaining to permanent marriage must also be observed in temporary marriage. An important difference being that the husband does not have to financially support the wife, for the temporary marriage has been laid down to satisfy the (casual) needs. Another difference is that the wife does not inherit from the husband unless it has been specified in the marriage contract that she will. It is evident that these two differences do not have any effect on the nature of marriage.

It is generally believed that Islam is an ever- lasting and final religion that satisfies all human needs. Now, a young man who has to stay abroad for several years in order to follow up his studies, and cannot enter into a permanent marriage relationship because of his limited possibilities will have to choose one of the following three ways:

a. to remain a bachelor,

b. to indulge into indecent relationship

c. to marry a woman temporarily, based on the aforementioned regulations.

The first choice is doomed to failure because although there are a few people who can tolerate a celibate life, this is not possible for all.

Those who choose the second option will end up in corruption and distress; moreover, Islam considers such a procedure unlawful. Only an ill mind and perverted thought may recommend it under the pretext of the necessity.

The third solution, suggested by Islam and frequently practiced during the lifetime of the Prophet (a.s), will be the only way to follow. This kind of marriage was later on questioned.

Those who fear the mut`ah marriage and consider it illegitimate should remember that the Islamic jurisprudents have all allowed for a similar thing to happen in a permanent marriage: the couple may conclude a permanent marriage contract but actually have the intention of separating after a year or so. This kind of marriage, permanent in appearance, is temporary in actuality. It differs from mut`ah in that mut`ah marriage is temporary and limited both outwardly and inwardly, whereas this particular kind of marriage is apparently permanent but limited in nature.

Now, why should those who support this kind of permanent marriage, sanctioned by all Islamic jurists, be afraid of temporary marriage?

Now that we have been acquainted with temporary marriage, it is time to become more familiar with the reasons for its sanctioning. Two points are worth mentioning:

1) Mut`ah was lawful in the earliest period of Islam.

2) It was not abrogated so long as the Prophet was alive.

As for the legitimacy of mut`ah, the holy Qur’an states, “Give them (the women) their marriage portion for the enjoyment you have had of them as a duty.” 4:24. The words in the verse are clear proof that this verse has been revealed in regard to temporary marriage for the following reasons:

a) The word istimta` (enjoyment) literally refers to temporary marriage; were it not so, there would be other contextual clues in the verse.

b) The word ujurahunna (their marriage dowry) is another lucid proof referring to mut`ah since other expressions as sadaq and mahr (dowry) are used for permanent marriage.

c) Shiite and Sunni commentators of the Qur’an both hold that the above verse has been revealed in regard to mut`ah marriage. For example, in his al-Durr al-Manthur, Jalal al-Din Suyuti quotes Ibn Jarir and Saddi to have said that the above verse concerns mut`ah marriage.

[1] Abu-Ja`far Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari on the authority of Saddi, Mujahid, and Ibn `Abbas also says that this verse is related to temporary marriage.[2]

d) The authors of Sihah and Masanid as well as hadith collections are of the same opinion. For example, in his own Sahih Muslim ibn Hajjaj quotes Jabir ibn `Abdullah and Salamah ibn Akwa` to have said, “A herald came to us from the Prophet (a.s) and said 'The Messenger of Allah has permitted you to have enjoyment of women.' This means he has permitted mut`ah marriage.”[3]
[1] Al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 2, p.140, commentary on the Qur'anic verse mentioned above.
[2] Jami` al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, part 5, p. 9.
[3] Sahih Muslim, part 4, p. 130, printed in Egypt.

The hadiths related in the books of Sahih and Musnad are too many to be cited here. These are sufficient evidence that mut`ah marriage was a law during the time of the holy Prophet (a.s)[1], admitted by the commentators and scholars of Islam.

A question may be raised as to whether the content of the mut`ah verse has been abrogated.

There may be few people who doubt that mut`ah marriage was allowed in the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (a.s). There may be doubt concerning its maintenance and its not having been abrogated.

Hadiths and the history of Islam indicate that mut`ah, a command of the Divine, was frequently practiced by Muslims up to the time of the second caliph, who prohibited it for certain considerations. In his Sahih, Muslim Ibn Hajjaj quotes (the event of) a debate between Ibn `Abbas and Ibn al-Zubayr in regard to mut`at al-nisa' and mut`at al-hajj. Jabir ibn `Abdullah said, “We, together with the Prophet, practiced both types of mut`ah; `Umar prohibited us from both; and we no longer practiced them.”[2]
[1] A sample list of the documents includes: Sahih al-Bukhari, the chapter on Tamattu`; Musnad Ahmad, vol. 4, p. 436, & vol. 3, pp. 3 & 356; Malik's al-Muwatta', vol. 2, pp. 4 & 30; Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol. 7, pp. 5 & 306; Tafsir al-Tabari vol. 5, pp. 6 & 9; Ibn al-Athir's al-Nihayah, vol. 2, pp. 7 & 249; Tafsir al-Razi, vol. 3, pp. 8 & 201; Tarikh Ibn Khillakan, vol. 1, pp. 9 & 359; Ahkam al-Qur'an, vol. 2, pp. 10 & 178; al-Raghib's al-Muhadharat, vol. 2, pp. 11 & 94; al-Suyuti's al-Jami` al-Kabir, vol. 8, pp. 12 & 293; Ibn Hajar's Fath al-Bari, vol. 9, p.141.
[2] Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol. 7, p. 206; Sahih Muslim, vol. 1, p. 395.

In his commentary on the Qur’an, Jalal al-Din Suyuti has quoted `Abd al-Razzaq, Abu-Dawud and Ibn Jarir to have asked Hakam if mut`ah marriage has been abrogated; he answered “No.”

“`Ali (a.s) has said, “If `Umar had not prohibited mut`ah, no one would have committed adultery except for the wicked people.”[1]

`Ali ibn Muhammad Qushchi also says, “`Umar went up the pulpit and said, “O people, there were three things practiced during the Prophet’s lifetime, which I forbid and I will punish anyone who performs them. They are mut`at al-nisa’, mut`at al-hajj and saying hayya `ala khayri al`amali in adhan.[2] The narrations concerning this point are too many to be mentioned here.[3]

It should be noted that mut`ah is a kind of marriage, and marriage is divided into two kinds: permanent and temporary marriage. The woman with whom the temporary marriage contract is concluded is considered one’s wife, and the other party of the contract is regarded as her lawful husband Such a marriage has been taken into consideration by the Qur’anic verses revealed in regard to marriage, an example of which is as follows: “and those who guard their private parts, except for their wives or their slave-girls.” 23:5-6.
[1] Al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 2, p.140; exposition under the Qur'anic verse on mut`ah.
[2] An exposition of al-Qushchi's al-Tajrid, the Discussion on Imamate, p. 484.
[3] For further information, see the following documents: Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3, pp 2, 356 & 363; al-Jahiz's al-Bayan wa'l-Tabyin, vol. 2, pp. 3 & 223; al-Jassas's Ahkam al-Qur'an, vol. 1, pp. 4 & 344; Tafsir al-Qurtubi, vol. 2, pp. 5 & 375; al-Sarakhsi al-Hanafi's al-Mabsut, the book on Hajj, Bab al-Qur'an; Ibn Qayyim's Zad al-Ma`ad, vol. 1, pp. 7 & 447; Kanz al-`Ummal, vol. 8, pp. 8 & 298; Musnad Abi-Dawud, pp. 9 & 247; Tarikh al-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 10 & 32; al-Tabari's al-Mustabin; Tafsir al-Razi, vol. 3, pp. 12, 200 & 202; Tafsir Abi-Hayyan, vol. 3, p.218.

Thus, when a woman marries a man based on the aforementioned conditions, she will be an exclusive example of those to whom the phrase for “except for their mates” refers, i.e. a wife.

The verse quoted above permits sexual intercourse with two groups of women: one’s wife and his slave-girl; this means that the woman married to under the temporary contract will be included within the first group, (i.e. the wives).

It is surprising that some people have considered the above verse as abrogating the mut`ah verse in al-Nisa’ chapter. We know that the abrogating verse should come after the one it abrogates. The Qur’an proves the reverse (of their claim), for al-Mu’minun Chapter, assumed to be the abrogator, is in reality a Meccan chapter (revealed before the Prophet (a.s) immigrated to Medina), whereas Nisa’ Chapter of the Qur’an containing permission for mut`ah was revealed in Medina (that is, after the Prophet’s emigration to Medina). Now, how can a Meccan verse abrogate one that was revealed in Medina?

Another argument in support of the fact that Mut`ah verse was not abrogated during the Prophet’s time is the numerous traditions denying the abrogation of mut`ah verse during the time of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), an example of which is the tradition narrated by Jalal al-Din Suyuti quoted above.[1]

In conclusion, we would like to say that the Imams descended from the Household of the Prophet of Allah (a.s), who according to Thaqalayn tradition are peers to Qur’an and inseparable from it, have made it clear that mut`ah marriage is lawful and has not been abrogated.[2] Moreover, the reality that Islam is able to solve man’s problems at any time, confirms that the temporary marriage, if the relevant stipulations are satisfied, is a legitimate contract, which nowadays can be one of the ways to save the youth from immorality and corruption.

    [1] al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 2, pp. 140-1; exposition of the verse on mut`ah.
    [2] Wasa'il al-Shiah, vol. 14, Kitab al-Nikah, Bab 1, on mut`ah, p. 436.



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