Mut’ah - Temporary Marriage

Mut’ah marriage means that a man marries a woman – either Muslim or from the people of the Book – and specifies how long the marriage will last, for example five days, or two months, or half a year, or many years.

The beginning and end of the marriage are specified, and he pays her a small mahr (dowry), and after the specified time is over, the woman exits the marriage.

This kind of marriage was permitted during the year of the Conquest of Makkah for three days, then it was disallowed and prohibited until the Day of Resurrection. This was reported by Muslim (1406).

The wife is the one with whom one stays on a long-term basis, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“… and live with them honourably …” [al-Nisaa’ 4:19], but in the case of mut’ah a man does not live with the woman for long.

The wife is the one who is called a wife in sharee’ah, with whom the relationship is long-lasting. She is mentioned in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“Except from their wives or (the slaves) that their right hands possess, ¾ for then, they are free from blame” [al-Mu’minoon 23:6] – the latter (a slave whom one’s right hand possesses) is not a wife according to sharee’ah, because her stay is limited to a short time.

The wife is the one who inherits from the husband, or from whom the husband inherits, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“In that which your wives leave, your share is a half if they have no child…” [al-Nisaa’ 4:12]. But the woman in a mut’ah marriage does not inherit, because she is not a wife, since she spends such a short time with the man.

On these grounds, Mut’ah marriage is considered to be zinaa (adultery or fornication), even if both parties consent to it, and even if it lasts for a long time, and even if the man pays the woman a mahr. There is nothing that has been reported in sharee’ah that shows that it may be permitted, apart from the brief period when it was allowed during the year of the conquest of Makkah. That was because at that time there were so many people who has newly embraced Islam and there was the fear that they might become apostates, because they had been used to committing zinaa during the Jaahiliyyah. So this kind of marriage was permitted for them for three days, then it was made haraam until the Day of Resurrection, as was narrated by Muslim, 1406.

More About Temporary Marriage:

The Ja‘fari Shee'ah scholars claim that Mut’ah or temporary marriage is NOT forbidden because it was practiced during the Prophet’s time. Only Omar forbade it.

Now, let us consider what the Muslim scholars say:

The purpose of Mut’ah is to fulfill a physical need only; there is no divorce and the two partners do not inherit each other. The Muslim scholars say that: The Noble Qur'aan had established the legal forms of relationship between male and female and confined it into two types: the marriage in which the main reason is multiplication and the other being mutual relationship and possession. The Noble Qur'aan says:

“And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts). Except from their wives or (the captives and the slaves) that their right hands posses, - for then, they are free from blame”. [Al-Mu'minoon 23:56 and al-Ma'aarij 70:29 - 30]

These two legal forms Islamic marriage were also confirmed in the Noble Qur'aan:

“Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those (captives and slaves) whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations [Istamta’tum], give them their Mahr is prescribed, you agree mutually (to give more), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise”. “And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free, believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those (captives and slaves) whom your right possess, and Allah has full knowledge about your Faith, you are one from another. Wed them with permission of their own folk (guardians, Auliya or masters) and give their Mahr according to what is reasonable; they (the above said captive and slave-girls) should be chaste, not adulterous, nor taking boy friends. And after they have been taken in wed folk, if they commit illegal sexual intercourse, their punishment is half that for free (unmarried) women. This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body; but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” {An-Nisaa 4:24-25]

In these ayaat the laws of marriage were detailed. The Muslims scholars confirmed that the meaning of “Istamta’tum” is referring to the enjoyment as part of the duties of the legal forms of marriage between a man and his wife. This part of the verse is spelling out the right of a wife to a Mahr (marriage gift). This is clearly demonstrated by a hadeeth using the same word “Istamta’ta” in its single form.

Mut’ah was permitted under severe circumstances during the time of jihaad, but it was always prohibited immediately after the need for it vanished. When it was permitted for the last time, its prohibition after that was final. The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said : ‘I had given you permission to contract “temporary marriage” with women, but Allah has forbidden it ‘till the Day of Resurrection’. [Muslim] So the permissions were actually only occasional exceptions from the original rule set in the Qur'aan and were made by the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) who had the authority; and the exceptions were not left open but were closed by the above hadeeth forever.

Later on, the Khaleefah Umar (radiallahu 'anhu) came to know that Amru bin Huraith was practicing Mut’ah and so he announced: ‘Verily Allah made permissible for His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) whatever he likes and as he liked it. And thereof the Noble Qur'aan had been completed. So complete Hajj and Umra for Allah had commanded you and confirm by proper conditions the marriage of those women (with whom you have performed Mut’ah). And any person who would come to me with a marriage of fixed duration (Mut’ah), I would stone him to death (which is the penalty for committing fornication by a previously married person).’ [Muslim]

Brothers and sisters, is there any difference between a woman lending her body for a few minutes as in prostitution or for a few days or months as in Mut’ah, since both are temporary? Don’t you think that the permission of Mut’ah today would humiliate our sisters, open the doors for playmates and finally destroy the concept of family in Islam? Remember the Shee'ah scholars of high status rarely allow their female relatives to practice Mut’ah in order to avoid humiliation. In fact the Mut’ah permitted occasionally before its final prohibitions did not require the female to be a Muslim or even one from the People of the Book which makes it completely distinguished from marriage. How could a Muslim legalize such a type of illegal relationship for Muslims or practice it himself? What is the difference between fornication today and Mut’ah in terms of their purposes? Aren’t both to satisfy the sexual desires alone?.

Sources: From al-Lu’lu’ al-Makeen min Fataawa Fadeelat al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Jibreen, p. 41.

Al haramain Islamic Foundation


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