The Sharing Group Discussion: The Validity of Nikah al-Mut'ah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following are two threads on nikah al-mut’ah, on The Sharing Group.  The first is by Sister San Yee, and the second is by Brother Ali Camarata.

Sister San Yee posted this question on The Sharing Group on the 09th October, 2014.  She said, “This is probably a question for our Shi’ah brothers and sisters in the group and for anyone who has knowledge on this topic.  When I first became Muslim, one of the first things I was taught about Shi’ah was the practice of temporary marriage.  I would like to know if temporary marriage is still practiced, how is it done and why is it done?

Brother Abdulhakim Niklas Landerhall: This is the view of the Twelver Shi’ah group; the Zaydi Shia think it is haram: Examining the Origin & Practice of Mut’ah by Sayyid ‘Ammar Nakshawani.

Brother Hossein Turner: A much misunderstood practice, and often abused.  I am sure others are more qualified to comment.

Brother Abdulhakim Niklas Landerhall: There is this: Do the Zaydis Believe in Temporary Marriage as the Twelver Shi’ah?

Brother Hajj Ahmad: Temporary marriage is very much practiced among the Shi’ah, especially among young men who are not yet married.  It is permissible.  Here is an interesting Shi’ah point of view: Temporary Marriage in Islam Part 1.

Sister San Yee: Thanks, Brother Abdulhakim Niklas Landerhall, for the informative video.  Interesting points, he gave.  I disagree with what he said that the Sunnis also practice a form of mut’ah too.

Brother Hajj Ahmad, that was a very interesting read.  Thank you.

Is there cultural consequences for a woman that gets involve in mut’ah?  How is she treated later when she wants to marry someone else?

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: I have heard of nikah al-misyar contracts being done - a form of mut’ah - in the Gulf.  Wahhabis mainly.  I do not agree with them - any negative consequences are always going to be borne by the woman with no rights having been given to her under this misyar arrangement, whilst the man gets to run off.

Brother James Harris: This is a recent article on the problem of misyar for Egypt: “Some girls have been married 60 times by the time they turn 18”.

Brother Edge H. He: That is why it is important that mut’ah is not conducted in instances without permission of the wife or which would destroy the foundations of the family.

Brother James Harris: What do parents think of their kids engaging in mut’ah?  I mean adult offspring of course.

Brother Stephen Roche: I recently attended a seminar and this topic was one of the research topics discussed, apparently there is a thriving online personal advertising scene in Iran where couples negotiate and define the terms of their temporary marriage.  There were some interviews featured where women spoke about the various reasons they were seeking a temporary marriage.  I remember one were the cost of further education was a factor.  The men I heard interviewed were usually young professionals who thought they could not afford to start a family or were not ready for the commitment.  Both men and women referred to not wanting to marry someone who was from a traditional background or not sophisticated.  I do not remember anything about it being a religiously sensitive issue there and I heard many accounts from historical sources that detail or refer to its practice.

Brother Edge H. He: Depends on the parents, much like dating within the Christian community.  Not to compare apples and oranges here...

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Tuition fees in the UK are forcing some female students into prostitution to pay for their fees.  Misyar or mut’ah - whatever you call it - is formalised prostitution which makes a mockery of the sanctity of marriage.  These discussions will have been had many times before and I intend no conflict; just to add my own opinion.  To answer Brother James Harris’s question, my children are still very young but I would actively and passionately discourage it of my son and daughter.

Brother Edge H. He: If mut’ah is formalised prostitution, why was it allowed under the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) gaze during his life?  It was ‘Umar (r.a.) who abolished it.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani quotes Imam Kamal ibn al-Humam (r.a.) as saying, “As for the evidence for the abrogation itself, it is that which Imam Muslim recorded in his Swahih that the Prophet (s.a.w.) forbade it on the Day of the Opening (of Makkah).  And in both the Swahih collections that the Prophet (s.a.w.) forbade it on the Day of Khaybar.  This is understood to mean it was abrogated twice.”

I had heard of the abrogation during the time of The Beloved (s.a.w.) before but just had to look up the source again.  But as above, I intend no conflict.  This is a strong issue for our Shi’ah brethren; I disagree with misyar too, and we can hopefully disagree amicably.

Brother Hajj Ahmad: That is interesting, Brother Hamayoon.  On whose authority is this tradition related and can you direct me to the chapter and number.  I am reluctant to even entertain a hadits given second hand.  I am not interested in what Shaykh Faraz Rabbani says, but what Imam Muslim (r.a.) himself said.

Brother Edge H. He: As it is, I appreciate your time to go look up what you find in your book.  al-Hamdulillah then, in either form of nikah we do not feel that mahr, dowry, establishes a relationship as prostitution, just as katb al-kitab, contract, does not make marriage a business transaction.  May Allah Bless you abundantly with peace and prosperity.  Wa as-Salaam.

Brother Hajj Ahmad: I found it, Brother Hamayoon.  I wonder what Shi’ah scholars have to say about this, although I can imagine.  Temporary marriage should never be viewed as prostitution.  If so, it is haram.  Also, a woman must remain in ‘iddah for two months afterward according to Sayyid as-Sistani.  I suggest you read the link I put up earlier so you understand the Shi’ah position based on Sunni sources

Sister Jonae Cope: Temporary marriage can be used for a variety of reasons.  One is to deal with sexual desire if one cannot get married permanently.  Other reasons include engagement, travel, converts learning about Islam, companionship, among other things.  There are rules in the mut’ah, a mahr, waiting period for the woman if there is a sexual component as it is not a requirement, as well as a stated time period in the marriage formula.  Sexual relations are not required for mut’ah to be valid, and it is up to the woman as to whether any sort of contact is allowed.  No waiting period is required if there is no sexual contact.

It is not prostitution, however those who do not know the rules and rights are more likely to misuse it.  Other things include no inheritance and the woman is not entitled to maintenance nor is she under the same obligations of listening to her husband as she would be in a permanent marriage.  Virgins have to have parental permission before engaging in mut’ah, and the girl’s father sets the term for the mut’ah.  Please let me know if you have more questions. I can provide lectures, articles and rulings from Shi’ah marajah, insha’Allah.

Brother Hesh Saadi: The greatest testimony to mut’ah’s original permissibility, and to the ban on it by the second caliph can be gauged from his own testimony.  In this regards we can rely on the following authoritative texts: Swahih Muslim, book 7, number 2801 & 2814; Musnad Ahmad, volume 1, page 52, hadits 369; Mustakhraj Abi Awwanah, volume 7, page 159, hadits 2713; Mustakhraj Abi Awwanah, volume 4, page 255, hadits 2697; Tarikh Madina, volume 2, page 719; Sunan Sa’id ibn Manswur, volume 1, pages 218 & 219; al-Mabsuth as-Sarkhasi, volume 4, page 27, Musnad ash-Shamyin, volume 3, page 320, hadits 2399; Kanz al-‘Ummal, volume 8, page 93, hadits 45715; al-Muhadhrat, volume 2, page 214, part 12; Tafsir al-Kabir, volume 4 pages 42 & 43; Zaad al-Ma’ad, volume 2, page 205; and Tafsir Qasmi, volume 3, page 4.

Below is from an article I wrote many months ago on mut’ah.  This is to show that swahabah did practice mut’ah even after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).

ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) accused ‘Umar (r.a.) of banning mut’ah and said the guilt of all future acts to be on his head.  In Tafsir Durr al-Mantsur, volume 2, page 41, Ayat Mut’ah, ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said, “Mut’ah was a Blessing of Allah upon the ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and had ‘Umar not prohibited it the only person to fornicate would be a playboy.”  ibn Abbas’ (r.a.) words are evidence his opposition to ‘Umar’s (r.a.) order and serves as proof that mut’ah is halal until the day of Judgement.

In Zaad al-Ma’ad, volume 2, page 190, Imam ‘Abd ar-Razzaq (r.a.) said that Shaykh Mu’ammar (r.a.) narrated from Shaykh ‘Ayyub (r.a.) that ‘Urwah (r.a.) said to ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), “Don’t you fear Allah by permitting mut’ah?”

He replied, “O ‘Urwah, ask your mother.”

In al-Muhadhrat, volume 3, page 14, “‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr mocked ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas for believing that mut’ah was halal, ibn ‘Abbas said, ‘Go and ask your mother as to how she and your father first used this practise.’

He asked his mother, and she replied, ‘Verily I conceived you through mut’ah.’”

Brother Hazrul Azhar Jamari: The practice of something controversial, does not characterise an entire community.  It does not matter if mut’ah is predominantly practised by Shi’ah.  There are just as many things within individual Sunni communities that just should not be done.  We should focus on the content, not the people.

Brother Hesh Saadi: All schools of thought agree that mut’ah was allowed by the Prophet (s.a.w.).  The difference of opinion is whether it was abrogated or not.

Brother Mansoor Rizvi: This book on mut’ah, was written by the wife of Dr. William Chittick, a well-known Sufi academic, Dr. Sachiko Murata.  Thought you might find it interesting: Mut’ah, Temporary Marriage, in Islamic Law.

Sister Amanda Grace: Everyone has their own opinions and feelings on mut’ah, but to judge someone else's beliefs shouldn't be what we do, as that will cause an uneasy stir amongst others.  Respectfully, I feel mut’ah is not a form of prostitution, and yes, women do have rights in mut’ah but not like in nikah.  We have the right to say no to sexual relations if that was the condition and the husband asks for it later on.  We also have a right to agree to sexual relations if the agreement was to not do so.  Yes, adhere to the guidelines of what was set.  But also, if conditions change, then both have to agree upon that, and that is okay.  That is to how I understand it, and like Sister Jonae said, mut’ah is not just for sexual relations.  It is also used for other purposes.  It is sad that it gets abused, or thought of in the wrong light.

Sister Jonae Cope: Mut’ah is in no way wajib; it is simply an avenue to deal with certain situations.  There are a lot of Shi’ah men and women who do not engage in mut’ah.  Just because we can do something, does not mean we are going to.

Brother Irtaza Haider: A couple of things to add to what has been said previously.  For those people that say mut’ah is just legalised prostitution should realize that that would be a pretty broke prostitute if they tried to make money through doing mut’ah properly.  We must not forget that after each partner, they have to wait out their ‘iddah, waiting period, which is about 3 months.  That means, a woman could sleep with, at most 4 guys a year if she only spent one night with each guy.  She definitely is not going to make ends meet by doing that.  This is of course assuming you're not breaking the rules of mut’ah, which some people do, but if that is the case, then we should outlaw permanent marriage as well because people break the rules of that also.

Speaking from a social perspective, mut’ah has been beneficial because it has saved many people from falling into sin.  If Muslims practiced mut’ah without stigmatizing it, then zina would become almost a non-issue in our communities; only the worst of the fasiqin would still be committing zina.  There is clearly a need for this as even our dear brothers in the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah have nikah ‘urfi and nikah misyar, which both fulfill similar a similar purpose of nikah al-mut’ah but I would argue that the latter has basis in Qur'an and sunnah whereas the former two do not.

Brother Hossein Turner: Mut’ah may be permissible in given contexts but there is greater reward for full chastity.

Brother Zayn Al-Abidin Tan: In western countries, parents have no control of their children especially when they are out at school so that courtship is imminent that most of our Sunni sisters and brothers end up in marriage because the girl is already pregnant.  In this case, our children are prone to commit adultery and illicit relationships.  Mut’ah is merely a cure to this kind of situation.  There are numerous advantage in certain community when mut’ah is applied due its own wisdom.

Brother James Harris: You said, “…most of our Sunni sisters and brothers end up in marriage because the girl is already pregnant”; where did you get this information?  There have long been lots of stories in Muslim countries about the supposed loose morality of people in the west, particularly women, and this sounds like another one of those.

Furthermore, your comparison would hold some weight if you examined issues among communities which followed Sunni madzahib.  Muslim minorities in the West fall into problems not because of flaws inherent in their madzhab, but rather due to issues in society that have nothing to do with religion or madzhab, such as drugs, teenage pregnancies and so forth.  When people fall away from their religion in minority contexts due to ignorance of their religion, they ignore most of the teachings anyway.

Brother Hossein Turner: I am of the view that it was outlawed, but I sympathise with the view of it being allowed in the cases where widowed women who have children need some assistance; as in the cases where the government welfare is insufficient.

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: People think it is just financial assistance that widows need.  It is not.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Thank you, Sidi James.  That is a much better rendition of the problem I had with the post.  To argue that mut’ah is a solution to problems that frankly, result from a failure of our communities rather than any inherent issues in ‘the West’ is an extremely flawed position to take.  The solution to our problems in this area is not greater mut’ah but to address the problems in our communities, including access to appropriate religious and spiritual knowledge, and support.

Brother Hossein Turner: Then again, why make such marriages temporary?  Why not just do the real deal?  What other assistance could they need, Sister Ishq?  Childcare?  Other sisters could provide emotional or practical support and they often do.

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: It is not always practical.  They do not fulfil the role of a husband.  They may get on through life but it may be a struggle.  Some may chose not to remarry but other widows who do want to remarry are not always able to do so.  Families or friends are not always enough.  Its companionship.

Brother Hossein Turner: What about husbands who have lost wives?  Many choose not to remarry, others do.  It is hard to generalise.

Sister Darwinn Girll Rendah: It is permitted for divorced or widowed women.  The mut’ah has to be done in secret so society does not look down at the woman and she will have a chance to get married later.  There are conditions to the mut’ah just like permanent marriage and if the woman falls pregnant, the child inherits the father just like kids from a permanent marriage.  Women have needs and mut’ah is meant to meet that to stop bigger sins from happening.

Brother James Harris: This is the problem I have with some of the arguments.  We need to get away from the idea that sexual attachment can be separated from emotional attachment.  It becomes difficult to sustain long-term relationships if we see relationships as a mere physical need.  I am speaking frankly here in order to understand all positions on this, and mean no disrespect to those in support of mut’ah.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: I read that post that I was requested to; I have numerous problems with it but I have no desire to be drawn into a debate on the issue so I will leave that there.  I trust my instincts; they have always served me well.  Temporary marriage goes against everything I consider sensible, and the practice was abrogated.  I married at 28; my wife was the first woman I was with, and insha’Allah, she will be the last.  I controlled myself so that I could give to my wife this best of gifts: nothing else I ever give her will come close, and to be honest, it was not even difficult to keep myself for my wife.  I was away for university and watched as people, including Muslims, took partners home for their one night stands.  I had no desire to emulate.  Our problem is the religious and spiritual gap: sort that out and the rest is easy.

I remember one of my teachers, when talking of how the Beloved (s.a.w.) used to deal with his wives fairly, mentioned an incident when one or more of the wives said that Khadijah (r.a.) was not a virgin upon marrying him, as they had been.  His reply was magnificent: that they were virgins when marrying him, but that he had been a virgin when marrying Khadijah (r.a.).  

Brother Hesh Saadi: Just because something is permitted, does not mean everybody has to do it.  There is a fiqh part to this issue and we can disagree on that.  We can talk about abrogation but we all know who abrogated it.  As for the social and cultural position, I agree with the stigma and problems that it can cause.  However, that is because of the conditioning of minds to a large extent.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Brother Hesh Saadi, we do not agree over abrogation – that is why it is an issue of debate.

Sister San Yee: Sister Darwinn, you said that the mut’ah has to be done in secret so society does not look down at the woman.  Your comment suggest that, although permitted in the Shi’ah community, it is discouraged due to the negative social consequences for the women who are involved in it.  How then can it be beneficial for women?

Brother Hesh Saadi: Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi, there is a problem in wanting to believe our own scholars’ works.  Sometimes I feel sad at the attempts made to attribute things to our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).  We all know the Qur’an is correct until the end of time and the verse of temporary marriage exists in it.  So the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) will never contradict the Qur’an because he was the walking Qur’an himself.  So any ‘hadits’ that contradicts the Qur’an must be rejected.  Moreover, the contradictions in the abrogation of this practice is found only in the works of scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah.  Many clearly say that practice was followed even after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and certain prominent people were born out of such wedlock.  I have provided a few references earlier.  However, the staunch supporters of the second caliph want to shift the responsibility of his actions to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).  Could it be to give more legitimacy to the actions of the second caliph?  I will leave that for you to work out.  Like I said before, just because something is allowed in Islam, does not mean that that anybody has to do it and in the same token I will not ridicule anybody if he does it because it is within the laws of Allah.

Brother Hossein Turner: ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) said of this, “I would not like the taking of concubines to become a custom among the Arabs.”

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Again, your post assumes that there is only one opinion on this.  Everything in your post, Sunni scholars would disagree with.  That the practice continued - it is around today - is not evidence of it being correct.  The practice was abrogated so there is no contradiction.  Unity comes not from believing the same things; but in being united in spite of our differences.

Brother Adam Kelwick: Does a woman who performs mut’ah observe the regular ‘iddah?

Sister San Yee: Yes.

I have 3 questions here.  Can a married women perform mut’ah?  Can mut’ah be performed with non-Muslims, or non-Shi’ah?  How is the mut’ah performed?  Is there anyone who officiates the marriage?

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: One question from me too: if she becomes pregnant, does she have any longer term rights over the temporary husband?

Brother Hesh Saadi: Almost all rules of normal nikah apply, except that it is for a stipulated time period.

Sister San Yee, a married woman cannot engage in mut’ah just like she cannot do nikah again.  Mut’ah is allowed with Muslims and the Ahl al-Kitab like in a normal nikah as far as men are concerned.  A Muslim woman can only perform mut’ah with a Muslim man just like nikah.  The important thing is that the two parties are aware of the rules, responsibilities and conditions of mut’ahMut’ah is performed the same way as nikah.  The dowry has to be agreed and the main difference is that the time period must be stipulated.  In Shi’ah fiqh, to perform a nikah, there is no obligation to have 2 witnesses or an official to read the nikah contract.  It can be done by the individuals concerned themselves.  However, if the girl is a virgin or dependent, then permission has to be taken from her guardian.  I might be missing some finer points so anybody can add further to what I have written.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi, whether she gets pregnant or not, the mut’ah finishes at the specified time period.  However, both parties can extend their time period if they want to, or convert their mut’ah into a nikah.  Even if the mut’ah came to an end, if the lady got pregnant, then the responsibility for the child rests totally with the man.  He has to pay for the upkeep of the lady for so that she can take care of herself and the unborn child.  After childbirth, she can demand compensation for breast feeding the child if she is or any expenses related to the child.  The full responsibility of the upbringing of the child rests with the father.

Brother Adam Kelwick: Does a child born of mut’ah have the same rights as a child born of nikah?

By the way, misyar marriage, although often abused, does not stipulate an end to the marriage contract and therefore very different to mut’ah.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: Do any of my Shi’ah brothers or sisters think that mut’ah can lead to an inability to love, or problems with becoming attached to someone of the opposite sex?

Sister Jonae Cope: Mut’ah is a serious contract, despite the lack of understanding surrounding it.  All things can be abused, even nikah.  It all comes down to the intention.  I am not sure if it is been posted but Sayyid ‘Ammar Nakshawani has a great lecture about mut’ah where he calls out those who try to abuse mut’ah.  You cannot use mut’ah just to ‘get experience’ before nikah.  It can be used for engagement to know if the girl is right for you or not.  Sexual relations are up to either the virgin girl’s father or up to the woman herself if she has already been married.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: Yes, but I have asked a pretty mainstream shaykh if it is okay to make mut’ah simply for sex, if both parties agree to it, and he said it is fine.  It is a ‘pleasure marriage’.  I have no problem with that in theory, we all have needs.  But I think that if you overdo it, there are problems, and we can eventually have emotional attachment problems and can end up seeing women or men as simply sexual partners.

Sister Jonae Cope: Yes, it can be used to satisfy needs if other measures are not able to control it and if permanent marriage is not available.  It is essentially a last resort.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: There are slight differences of opinion on this even within the mainstream scholars.  For example, some would say that asking permission from the father is always necessary with a virgin, others say that if she is a mature adult, say, over 18, permission is not necessary.  Some of the other members might know more about the differences in opinion amongst the ‘ulama.  I guess the view that it is a last resort is debated, but I do not know.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: I agree it is important to get to know the partner and family; going in blind is problematic.  I asked a whole load of questions over months of my wife, as did she of me.  What I learned myself after marriage though is that there is always more stuff to piss you off about your partner; I have plenty of foibles that anger the missus too.  That is part of marriage and I do not think sex before marriage solves this: divorce rates in the West attest to this.  I therefore still have problems with sex before marriage though.  A healthy physical life is an important ingredient of marriage, but this can be learned and shared together afterwards.  The focus should be on making marriages work - being patient.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: Brother Hamayoon, the point is that it is not sex outside of marriage.  It is a form of marriage that was practised by many prophets.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: When I say sex before marriage, I meant mut’ah and misyar.  I still do not see a need for it given that the same reasoning in the West has made no positive difference in divorce rates; quite the opposite in fact.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: I am starting to think that it should not just be used at will, and perhaps, Sister Jonae is right.  Maybe it should be a last resort.  It is important that when you meet your permanent wife, you have not lost the ability to love her unconditionally.  This is a danger of overusing mut’ah.  In the West, brother, there is no marriage contract.  Mut’ah has regulations and responsibilities, which like any form of marriage, can be abused.  I assume you are referring to having a boyfriend or girlfriend in the West.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: That is my worry.  Wanting to get to know one’s partner sexually before marriage, for me, is to feed the nafs, rather than going into it for the Pleasure of Allah (s.w.t.).  If they want, Western couples are perfectly entitled to enter into prenuptial agreements - and they do.  Sex before marriage is common.  But marriages still break down by the dozen.  This is a bigger problem than the inability to get a taste before buying for life; rather it is about patience and perseverance to make a marriage work.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: The fact is that people want to have sex.  It' is a natural human desire.  What is more important, preventing divorce or preventing people having children and sex out of wedlock?  I see your point and it is a good one.

Brother Hossein Turner: Using mut’ah primarily to satisfy one’s lusts goes against the injunction of Islam.  I really despair sometimes.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: It is not just about preventing children outside of wedlock, but also prevents deadbeat fathers who might otherwise run away from their responsibilities.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: People want all sorts of things.  That does not mean that they should be allowed.  What we want and what is best for us are not always mutually compatible; often quite the opposite.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: I thought sex before marriage was a form of zina?  What is the difference between mut’ah and zina then, Brother Hamayoon?  Dating does not have to mean sex, by the way, though in the West sometimes it does.  It depends on the couple, actually.  Not everyone is the same.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: Mut’ah is not zina because it is a marriage contract.  It is not about what we want, but what has been made lawful.  Why make unlawful that which God has Made lawful?  As far as I can tell, it is allowed in the Qur’an.  And I seriously doubt prophets of God would commit zina.

Sister Jonae Cope: Mut’ah is a lawful marriage contract, therefore not zina.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Sister Colleen and all, After today’s discussion, I am willing to concede that mut’ah is not full on zina, but it is for me, still zina with a very thin Islamic veneer, and even then, depending on intention.  What we have heard above about desiring sex, preventing children out of wedlock and such are not valid reasons to do this.  Rather than tackle the societal causes, mut’ah as used ignores the problem and instead tries to brush it under a carpet.

Brother Abdulmalik Morton: Speaking from personal experience, I feel that the arguments around mut’ah depend a lot on the societal context.  In many cases, the argument around permissibility is moot unless you live in a real Islamic society, and there are not any.  To me, the issue is understanding the inner purpose of life and all it contains including relationships.  From that perspective, my opinion changed from one of vigorous defence to one of quite rejection due to my sense that there was always a degree of inequality inherent in favour of the male.  It would be more useful to re look at some of the barriers to dignified divorce in my opinion.  In most cases, the argument for mut’ah over full nikah is fairly weak, but there is simply no way to give a universal answer.

Sister Fatimah Asiyah: You are correct, Sister Marium.  Just because it is allowed, you do not have to practice it.  It allowed for a man to divorce his wife after 40 years for no reason.  It does not mean he has to.  It is also permissible to eat camel meat but you do not have to.  It is only defining what a permissible option is.  I will also add that law does not equate morality per se either.  One can abuse many halal things.

Brother Edge H. He: The research is out there for both theories.  I encourage people to look at the evidence for both sides and make their own informed opinion on this and on other issues.  As has been said before, the truth is like a lion.  Let it loose, it will defend itself.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Thank you, Brother Edge H. He.  Your wisdom is much appreciated.  Genuine open mindedness from all sides, rather than it being used as a tactic to convert the other, is what we need, especially in these troubled times.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In summary of everything, from a fiqh point of view, there is no option for nikah al-mut’ah in Sunni Islam.  It is a type of nikah practiced primarily by the Ja’fari madzhab.  The Wahhabi sect practices nikah al-misyar, which is similar but there are different conditions.  Nikah al-misyar is also not recognised in Sunni Islam.  That being said, nikah al-mut’ah was once a valid form of nikah in the early days of Islam to the Sunnis.  The majority of the schools do not recognise it.  That does not make it an invalid opinion, merely that it is not an option in the four major madzahib of Sunni Islam.

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: This probably needs another thread, but maybe instead of talking about the 4 great schools of fiqh, it is time we included Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) and start talking about the 5 schools of fiqh?  As you have said before, Brother Terence, the Shi’ah are part of the ummah.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: There are actually about 20 or more great madzahib.  The schools may not be existent now, or they may not be known, but their opinions are still valid.

Sister Amanda Grace: What are the others, Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis?  It would be interesting to learn of them as well!

Brother Abdullah Shalchi: You dodged the question like a real diplomat.  Bearing in mind who Imam Ja’far (q.s.) was, and his reputation with other a’immah of fiqh, should not the Shi’ah be brought in from the cold?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: People can barely handle one, let alone four or five; to bring in the rest would just overwhelm people.  We should stick with five first, as suggested by Brother Abdullah Shalchi.  In fiqh, we study the five first.

Sister Severina Smith: So is it halal or not, Brother Terence?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: As mentioned above, it is impermissible if you follow any of the four Sunni schools.

Sister Imaan Deen: So ratio is 4 against out of 5 schools.  The 5th school should think about it and agree that is impermissible.

Brother Abdulmalik Morton: I feel this whole discussion does bring up a very important issue.  In an ever more complex world, is it not incumbent upon us to know our inner and outer boundaries and act upon them?  The whole discussion about mut’ah brings up a few issues such as many who have been alone with the opposite sex on occasion.  Would many do that even if some consider it haram rather than think about some arrangement that made clear the intention and boundaries of the situation?  Leaving the emotive issue of mut’ah, how many other situations do we skip speaking of the fiqhi view because it ends in such argumentation and end up just doing whatever is easy at the time?  It is time that we recognise that we live in a world where people can do what they want?  How do we support those that wish to behave in an optimal manner?  Going on defending positions as many seem to, is probably not the best way.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Discussions of fiqh should never be emotional.  Our great scholars learned to agree to disagree, whilst the people of lesser knowledge are certain in their ignorance.

I would like to point out, Sister Imaan Deen, that jurisprudence is not decided upon ratios.  If we were to consider other points of fiqh, such as the placement of the qunut in swalah, then the Hanafi madzhab is ‘outnumbered’.  Or if we were to consider the stipulation for the niqab, then the Shafi’i is ‘outnumbered’.  If we were to work that way, there would not be any madzhab, and the Muslims will all have to follow one way no matter their condition, their state and their zaman.  Islam would become rigid, and it will cease to become relevant to all mankind.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself said that the differences of opinion in our ummah is a Rahmah, and that is amongst the scholars.  The imam of the Ja’fari madzhab is Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.), the teacher of Imam Malik (r.a.), Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), Imam ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (r.a.) and so many others.  Even when we disagree, we must respect the madzahib of the scholars.

Brother Paul Salahuddin Armstrong: Mut’ah is still practiced.  I do not judge, endorse or forbid, but think people should think very carefully before engaging in this practice, as should be the case with all forms of sexual relationship.  I personally know of cases where mut’ah has been abused and sisters have felt used and dejected.  This is not a critique of Shi’ah Islam either, as I know some Sunnis do more or less the same thing, but simply call it by other labels.

Brother Edge H. He: I agree, Brother Paul, this is a very valid point that spans across madzhab and religion: finding the right fit, the right spouse, insha’Allah.

Brother James Harris: As the different opinions on the matter of mut’ah have been presented in great detail throughout this thread, and responses given by both sides, I think the thread has run its course now.

Brother Ali Camarata posted this article on The Sharing Group on the 27th March, 2015: “I Do... for now.”  UK Muslims Revive Temporary Marriages.

He also quoted the following hadits as recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari in accompaniment.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “From among my ummah there will come people who will consider zina, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful.”

Brother Pharshad Emati: Nikah al-mut’ah that is endorsed in the Qur’an:

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess.  Thus hath Allah Ordained (Prohibitions) against you: except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, ― desiring chastity, not lust.  Seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, ye agree mutually (to vary it) there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise. (Surah an-Nisa’:24)

It is not illegal sexual intercourse.

Brother Imran Price: How very strange, Brother Pharshad, that my version of the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an does not mention this.

Brother Zakaria Ali: Brother Ali Camarata, are you insinuating that the Prophet (s.a.w.) legislated zina?  All Muslims agree that the Prophet (s.a.w.) allowed mut’ah.  However the disagreement about it was whether it was abrogated later on.  But if you are saying that mut’ah is zina, than you are accusing the Prophet (s.a.w.) of allowing and promoting zina.  You should think before you post things online.

Brother Pharshad Emati: Also, the Qur’an was not Revealed in English.  Surah an-Nisa’:24 uses the word ‘istimtum’, from the same root word as mut’ah, that is translated as ‘benefits’.

Brother Ali Camarata: Mut’ah, like alcohol, was done before Islam and then prohibited before his death.  Both are completely haram.  Since what is done in the article above is not a valid marriage, the intercourse is zina despite the efforts of some trying to call it lawful.

Brother Zakaria Ali: According to Swahih Muslim, the companions used to engage in temporary marriage for as much as a cloak.  Sabra Juhanni (r.a.) reported, “Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) permitted temporary marriage for us.  So I and another person went out and saw a woman of Banu ‘Amir, who was like a young long-necked she-camel.  We presented ourselves to her, whereupon she said, ‘What dower would you give me?’

I said, ‘My cloak.’

And my companion also said, ‘My cloak.’  And the cloak of-my companion was superior to my cloak, but I was younger than he.  So when she looked at the cloak of my companion she liked it, and when she cast a glance at me, I looked more attractive to her.

She then said, ‘Well, you and your cloak are sufficient for me.’

I remained with her for three nights, and then Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) said, ‘He who has any such woman with whom he had contracted temporary marriage, he should let her off.’”

Brother Ali Camarata: Brother Pharshad Emati, I think we will disagree on this.  I fully think I am right and you also, which does not detract from a respectful dialogue.  The prohibition of mut’ah is something not debated among any of the madzahib, and while the Shi’ah believe in it, that would not negate ijma’ from the scholars.  This is why it will be hard to find a middle ground but yet agree to disagree.  I will follow the position supported by the Qur’an, sunnah and has ijma’ but the interpretation and position of yours will oppose that.

Brother Zakaria Ali: Or in this case, a handful of flour.  Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (r.a.) reported, “We contracted temporary marriage giving a handful of flour as a dower during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.), and during the time of Abu Bakr until ‘Umar forbade it in the case of ‘Amr ibn Hurayts.”  This is also in Swahih Muslim.

Brother Pharshad Emati: First of all, Brother Ali Camarata, you cannot disagree with the Qur’an’s wording.

Secondly, the swahabah themselves, after the Prophet (s.a.w.), disagreed on its prohibition.  ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) used to rule in favour of mut’ah even after the life of the 4th caliph, ‘Ali (k.w.).  The Prophet never allowed alcohol.  He never promoted it, or consumed it.  But mut’ah was deemed halal.  Alcohol was never deemed halal.  The Qur’an merely began by Prohibiting joining prayers while intoxicated, which is true to this day.

Brother Ali Camarata: The companions drank alcohol before its prohibition also.  It was narrated from ‘Ali (k.w.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) forbade mut’ah and the meat of domestic donkeys at the time of Khaybar.  According to another report, he forbade mut’ah marriage at the time of Khaybar and he forbade the meat of tame donkeys.  This is found in the Shaykhayn.

It was narrated from ar-Rabi’ ibn Sabrah al-Juhani (r.a.) that his father told him that he was with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) when he said, “O people, I used to allow you to engage in mut’ah, but now, Allah has Forbidden that until the Day of Resurrection, so whoever has any wives in a mut’ah marriage, he should let her go and do not take anything of what you have given them.”  This is in Swahih Muslim.

‘Allowing’ is not the same as promoting.  Its prohibition is rather clear and as said, I will choose to side with the ijma’ while others can disagree.  To each their own but my position that mut’ah is haram, and thus zina is not a rare or invalid opinion if you want to chalk it up to differences of opinion.

Brother Pharshad Emati: It is not ironic that your ijma’ follows ahadits that claim other than what Allah (s.w.t.) allowed it in Surah an-Nisa’:24?  There is no verse that came to prohibit it.  That means the Prophet (s.a.w.), according to Sunni scholars, made haram something that Allah (s.w.t.) had Declared halal.

I know that in Sunni Islam, a hadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.) can abrogate a verse of the Qur’an.  It was things like that, which made me leave Sunni Islam years ago after extensive research.  In Sunni Islam, a mutawatir hadits can override a Qur’anic verse, abrogate it.  In Shi’ah Islam, it can only complement it.  The Qur’an cannot be abrogated by ahadits.

Brother Nathanael Savaş Munir: Can you give an example of when a mutawatir hadits has abrogated a Qur’anic verse?

Brother Pharshad Emati: We just did.  Surah an-Nisa’:24 is clearly about mut’ah; the swahabah are in agreement with this.  But then Sunnis have strange ahadits that claim the Prophet (s.a.w.) banned mut’ah in different periods: some ahadits say it was during Khaybar, some say it was in Makkah, some say in Madina.  They follow the hadits, and not the Qur’an in this instance.

Sister San Yee: We had a long and interesting discussion about a year ago in The Sharing Group about this topic.  I learnt a lot from our Shi’ah brothers and sisters regarding this topic but what I also learnt was that the Wahhabis also practiced mut’ah but called it misyar.  The practice of misyar seems to be becoming more common as Arabs are now traveling to places like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines for holidays.  To legalise their sexual holidays, they would engage in misyar.  Misyar seems to be spreading into countries not practiced before because of Wahhabi money.

The following is the IslamQA site on the permissibility of misyar according to the Wahhabi: Misyar Marriage: Definition & Rulings.

Brother Ali Camarata: Misyar is the giving up of rights, not the temporary nature of the marriage.  The same website you quoted also says that marrying with the intention to divorce is haram at Marrying with the Intention of Getting Divorced is Haram, and there are discussions on abuse of the concept on the same site being wrong.  The concept of misyar is not ‘Wahhabi’ as you can see here also.

Sister San Yee: Brother Ali Camarata, the site you provided says, “At times, a misyar marriage is contracted on a temporary basis which ends in divorce on the expiration date of the contract.”  To me, this is the same as mut’ah.

Brother James Harris: How is it different apart from the name?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In shari’ah, marriage is a legal bond and a social contract between a man and a woman only before Allah (s.w.t.).  There are only two types of marriages Mentioned in the Qur’an.

The first is a normal nikah:

And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth). (Surah an-Nisa’:4)

And nikah al-mut’ah:

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess.  Thus hath Allah Ordained (Prohibitions) against you: except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, ― desiring chastity, not lust.  Seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, ye agree mutually (to vary it) there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise. (Surah an-Nisa’:24)

It should be noted, however, that many scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah do not recognise this ayat as referring to nikah al-mut’ah.  Sunni Islam believes that nikah al-mut’ah has been abrogated and there is a strong fatwa from ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) declaring it abrogated.  The Shi’ah sects do not agree.

Additionally, there is nikah al-misyar.  Nikah al-misyar is contract carried out via the normal contractual procedure, except that the husband and wife give up several rights by their own free will, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy, the wife’s rights to housing, and nafqah, and the husband's right of home and access.

This is essentially because the couple continues to live separately from each other, as before their contract, and see each other to fulfill their needs in a halal manner whenever they please.  This is also known as the traveller’s marriage.  Its status in the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah is controversial at best.

I wrote this article about nikah al-misyar: A Muslim Convert Once More: Nikah al-Misyar: Nikah al-misyar, also known as zawaj al-misyar, traveller’s marriage, is a type of nikah, marriage contract, peculiar to the Wahhabi sect.  It is not recognised in Sunni Islam.  It is ostensibly carried out with the objective of allowing a couple to engage in intercourse in a permissible manner.  Nikah al-misyar is a temporary relationship between men and women for sexual gratification.  In this relationship, the woman relinquishes all her rights that are normally available to her in a nikah.  At least sixty major Wahhabi scholars, including Saudi Grand Mufti, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Shaykh, have endorsed nikah al-misyar in their fatawa.  The husband and wife surrender several marital rights, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygyny, and the husband’s right to home-keeping and access.  Significantly, the wife waives her rights to housing and maintenance money, the nafaqah.

On the issue of nikah al-mut’ah, it pertains to differences of fiqh.  The Ja’fari madzhab allows it.  To liken it to zina is unfair:

Brother Ali Camarata: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, both are not essentially the same as one is temporary marriage and the other is conditional marriage or giving up of rights.  One link referenced above had this after mentioning the minimum requirements of marriage: “As such, if the above necessary factors are met, the marriage is valid according to shari’ah, even if it is a misyar marriage.  Thus, if the misyar marriage is limited to a specified time, it is invalid, and the couple’s relationship will be unlawful and sinful.  Men who sometimes enter into ‘temporary’ misyar marriage while on holiday must realise that if this is explicitly mentioned at the time of contracting the marriage, then it would make such a marriage invalid and unlawful, and more akin to mut’ah.  If there is no explicit mention of this, but the man marries with the intention of divorce, then it is disliked, and unlawful, but valid, if it entails harm to the woman.”

The specifying a time limit verses secretly intending it as some do affects the validity while both are wrong - though an internal intention is only known to the individual and Allah Alone.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Nikah al-misyar, just like nikah al-mut’ah, is not recognised in Sunni Islam.  Nikah al-mut’ah is recognised in Shi’ah Islam, and nikah al-misyar by the Wahhabi sect.  The Wahhabis also use nikah al-misyar to make halal, what is essentially prostitution.  They do it in Southeast Asia, with prepubescent girls.

From a fiqh perspective, the fundamental Ja'fari understanding is that it is preferable to zina.  Whilst we do not recognise it in our madzahib, I am not going to condemn another group within the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah for a different interpretation, and put it under ikhtilaf.

Brother Ali Camarata: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, I believe there is a level of misunderstanding then between the actions of people and what scholars you disagree with have said then.  Misyar refers to conditions but not temporary nor invalid marriage, like prepubescent, whether ignorant individuals may do this or not.

Since you brought up Wahhabis, I will quote one whom you call such: Munajjid said, “Those who said that it is permissible did not say that a time limit should be set as in the case of mut’ah.  And they did not say that it is permissible without a wali, because marriage without a wali is invalid.  And they did not say that the marriage contract may be done without witnesses or without being announced."

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I am not taking anything from Swalih al-Munajjid, brother.  I do not recognise Wahhabis as authorities on anything pertaining to our religion.

Brother Ali Camarata: The word ‘conditional’ is not the same as the word ‘temporary’ and if a time limit is not a condition, and if a time limit is given, then the nikah is invalid.  Conditions mentioned above were such as giving up a night in polygamy, monetary support, and so on - which is different from mut’ah, like in the article where the marriage would be for an hour or so.  Thus mut’ah and misyar are completely different from each other.

I understand that we will disagree because at the core we accept different sources as dalil, such as when the Shi’ah rejected the hadits from Swahih Muslim.  According to their following of Shi’ah scholars, their opinion is correct and I am not trying to change that.  According to my following of the above hadits and the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah, my opinion is correct.  This does not mean dialogue cannot be had.

Brother Hajj Ahmad: Conflating zina with mut’ah is ignorant.

Sister Eleanor Grant: My translation of Surah an-Nisa’:24 reads: “And the independent from the women, except those maintained by your oaths; the book of God over you; and permitted for you is what is beyond this, if you are seeking with your money to be independent, not for illicit sex.  As for those whom you have already had joy with, then you shall give them their dowries as an obligation.  There is no sin upon you for what you agree on after the obligation.  God is Knowledgeable, Wise.”  This is nothing to do with temporary marriage.  This was relevant at the time of Revelation.

Brother Pharshad Emati: ‘Istimta’’ in Surah an-Nisa’:24 literally means “to have mut’ah with”.

Brother Dan Oo: Sister Eleanor, you are not quoting the Qur’an.  You are quoting an English translation of the meaning.  Brother Pharshad Emati may have a valid point.  I have to read up on it first.  Maybe our resident expert in Arabic etymology, Brother James Harris can weigh in on this.

Brother James Harris: ‘Istamta’’ simply means, ‘enjoy’ or ‘take pleasure from or with’.

Sister Eleanor Grant: Thanks, Brother James.

Brother Dan Oo: I would like to see the whole commentary.

Brother James Harris: Yes.  A reading of mut’ah may be possible, but that could only be established by looking at a detailed commentary.  The verse on its own does not convey that sense.

Brother William Voller: I was contemplating the point of marriage in Islam.  Unlike, say Catholicism, where it is a sacrament that leaves an indelible mystical significance, the Islamic version is a contract which is essentially about a responsible relationship.  So mut’ah could plausibly be a variation of this theme.  The hadits and commentary in the original post is believed to relate to later Ottoman decadence, but has nothing to do with mut’ah.

Bidayat al-Mujtahid has said that the reports of prohibition have reached the level of tawatir, although they have differed as to when this happened from Khaybar all the way until possibly the farewell pilgrimage.  Most companions upheld its prohibition except ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) who is said to have argued it is a blessing that if Umar (r.a.) had not prohibited it, no one would have the urge to commit zina.  ‘Atha’ (r.a.) is reported to have said it continued right through until the caliphate of ‘Umar (r.a.).  But it seems no subsequent Sunni ‘alim has endorsed it.

Sister Amanda Grace: And this is what seems really interesting is that if it was never banned in the Qur’an, why would the Prophet (s.a.w.) do so?  I believe he did not, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) would never go against the Words of Allah (s.w.t.).  The same argument is used when someone says alcohol was first made halal, then haram; but in reality, it was never made halal in the first place.

Brother William Voller: Yes, it is nothing at all like the ruling on khamr.  There is something that needs investigation.  Mainly what was before, when it changed and why?

Brother Edge H. He: In my research, I also found that after ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) made the ruling on mut’ah, ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.) reinstated it.   Considering that ‘Ali’s (k.w.) stance is the most current of the Rashidun caliphs, who, after him, had the authority to change this?

Sister Jennah J'Amy McCracken: Permanent marriage is always preferable to mut’ahMut’ah has a time, place and context for cases in which it might be appropriate or the persons may not be in a position to accept full marriage for a variety of circumstantial reasons.  In modern usage, pious couples in conservative cultures often use it during an engagement period so that they can be seen in public without a chaperone and not be talked about.


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