Nikah mut'ah

Nikah mut'ah[1][2] (Arabic: نكاح المتعة‎, romanizednikāḥ al-mutʿah, literally "pleasure marriage";[3](p1045) or Sigheh[4] (Persian: صیغه‎) is a private and verbal temporary marriage contract that is practiced in Twelver Shia Islam [2]in which the duration of the marriage and the mahr must be specified and agreed upon in advance.[1][5][6](p242)[7](p47–53) It is a private contract made in a verbal or written format. A declaration of the intent to marry and an acceptance of the terms are required as in other forms of marriage in Islam.[8]

According to Twelver Shia jurisprudence, preconditions for mutah are: The bride must not be married, she must be Muslim or belong to Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Book), she should be chaste, not addicted to fornication and she should not be a young virgin (if her father is absent and cannot give consent).[9][need quotation to verify] At the end of the contract, the marriage ends and the wife must undergo iddah, a period of abstinence from marriage (and thus, sexual intercourse). The iddah is intended to give paternal certainty to any child/ren should the wife become pregnant during the temporary marriage contract.[6][1]

Generally, the Nikah mut'ah has no proscribed minimum or maximum duration.[10][11][12] However, one source, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, indicates the minimum duration of the marriage is debatable and durations of at least three days, three months or one year have been suggested.[1] Sunni Muslims do no practice Nikah Muta however, they do practice Nikah misyar, which has been regularly considered a similar marriage arrangement.

Many Muslims and Western scholars have claimed that both Nikah mut'ah[13] and Nikah misyar[14] are Islamically void attempts to religiously sanction prostitution which is otherwise forbidden.[15]


Mut'ah, literally meaning joy, is a condition where rules of Islam are relaxed. It can apply to marriage (the nikah mut'ah) or to the Hajj (the obligatory pilgrimage) (the Mut'ah of Hajj). Mut'ah is a sensitive area of disagreement between those who follow Sunni Islam (for whom nikah mut'ah is forbidden) and those who follow Shia Islam (for whom nikah mut'ah is allowed).[5] Shias and Sunnis do agree that, initially, or near the beginning of Islam, nikah mut'ah was a legal contract.[7][16] Beyond that time, the legality of the practice is debated.

Historical examples[edit]

A historical example of nikah mut'ah is described by Ibn Hajar Asqalani (1372 - 1448 CE (852 AH)) in his commentary on the work of Sahih al-Bukhari.[17] Muawiyah I (602 - 680 AH), first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, entered into a nikah mut'ah contract with a woman from Ta'if. She was a slave who was owned by a man called Banu Hazrmee. She received a yearly stipend from Muawiyah. Ordinarily, sexual access rights to a female slave belongs to the slave owner as part of his property rights which cannot be shared or assigned, unless the slave is married off, in which case the slave owner loses all rights to sexual access.

Scholar ‘Abd ur-Razzaq as San‘ani (744 CE) described how Saeed bin Jubayr frequently visited a woman in Mecca. When asked why, he said he had a contract of nikah mut'ah with her and seeing her was "more halal than drinking water".[18]

Ibn Jurayj, an eminent scholar from among the Tabi’ al-Tabi’een, was known to have practiced mut’ah with a large number of women.[19]

By contrast, in the Sahih al-Bukhari, Mut'ah marriage is classed as forbidden because Ali bin Abu Talib said that he heard Muhammad say that it is forbidden. As narrated by 'Ali bin Abu Talib: "On the day of Khaibar, Allah's Apostle forbade the Mut'a (i.e. temporary marriage) and the eating of donkey-meat."[20] as mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari (Volume 9, Book 86, Number 91).

Zaidi Shia texts also state that Ali said Mut'ah marriage was forbidden and for this reason the Zaidi Shia do not practise Mut'ah marriage.

In Sunni Islam[edit]

In the sixteenth century, during the reign of Akbar, the third emperor of the Mughal Empire, who was believed to be a Hanafi Sunni, debates on religious matters were held weekly on Thursdays. When discussing nikah mut'ah, Shi'ite theologians argued that the historic Sunni scholar Malik ibn Anas supported the practice.[6][21] However, the evidence from Malik's Muwatta (manual of religious jurisprudence) was not forthcoming. The Shi'ite theologians persisted and nikah mut'ah was legalized for the twelve Shia during Akbar's reign.[6][21]

According to the actual book Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas, Mutah was banned because Ali ibn Abi Talib said that Mutah was banned by Muhammad himself on the day of Khaibar. For this reason the Zaidi Shia do not practice Mutah marriage. According to Malik ibn Anas in Muwatta Volume I, Chapter 18, Hadith 1151 43: "Both Abdullah and Al-Hasan, the two sons of Muhammad ben Ali Abu Taleb, from their father Muhammad ben Ali ben Abu Taleb from Ali ben Abu Taleb, that the Messenger of Allah had forbidden temporary marriage, and the eating of the flesh of the domestic donkey on the day of Khaibar."[22]

The Hanafi school of Sunni jurisprudence argues that although the nikah mut'ah contract itself is valid, marriage is regarded as a permanent condition and therefore, the temporary element of the contract makes it void.

The only Sunni Arab jurisdiction that mentions nikah mut'ah is Jordan; if the nikah mut'ah meets all other requirements, it is treated as if it were a permanent marriage.[7]

The thirteenth century scholar, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi said,

Amongst the Ummah there are many great scholars who deem Mut'ah to have been abrogated, whilst others say that Mut'ah still remains.[23]

The 20th century Sunni scholar, Waheed uz-Zaman, Deobandi said,

On the topic of Mut'ah, differences have arisen amongst the Sahaba, and the Ahl'ul Hadith, and they deemed Mut'ah to be permissible, since Mut'ah under the Shari'ah was practiced and this is proven, and as evidence of permissibility they cite verse 24 of Surah Nisa as proof. The practice of Mut'ah is definite and there is ijma (consensus) on this and you can not refute definite proof by using logic.

The Gharab al Quran, the dictionary of Qur'anic terms states,

The people of Faith are in agreement that Mut'ah is halaal, then a great man said Mut'ah was abrogated, other than them remaining scholars, including the Shi'a believe Mut'ah remain halaal in the same way it was in the past. Ibn Abbas held this viewpoint and Imran bin Husain.[24]

The Tafsir Haqqani, a critical explanation of the Quran states,

Some Sunni scholars deem Mut'ah permissible, in the same way the Sahaba Ibn Abbas and Imran bin Haseen deemed it permissible.[25] Ibn Abbas was rebuked by Ali himself on mut'ah marriage itself. In sahih Muslim it is mentioned that Ali heard that Ibn Abbas gave some relaxation in connection with the contracting of temporary marriage. Ali replied Don't be hasty (in your religious verdict), Ibn 'Abbas, for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the Day of Khaibar prohibited for ever the doing of it-And eating of the flesh of domestic asses[26]

Sunni Muslims use this Hadith from Sahih Muslim as further evidence that even great companions like Ibn Abbas got it wrong and Ali had to correct him. And this correction by Ali they say ends the whole subject matter on the complete banning of mut'ah marriage.

De facto temporary marriages were conducted by Sunnis by not specifying how long the marriage would last in the written documents themselves while orally agreeing to set a fixed period.[27][28]

Nikah Misyar[edit]

Even though nikah mut'ah is prohibited by Sunni schools of law, several types of innovative marriage exist, including misyar (ambulant) and ʿurfi (customary) marriage.[29] Some regard misyar as being comparable to nikah mut'ah: for the sole purpose of "sexual gratification in a licit manner".[7][30][31] Sunnis dismiss these claims as nothing more than Shia polemics. Nikah misyar, they argue, unlike mut'ah is not temporary but a permanent marriage with no time limits. The difference between a normal marriage and misyar marriage is that in misyar the man and woman forego certain rights temporarily until both partners choose to reinstate them. But misyar is still frowned upon in Sunni Islam and never recommended.[32] In Ba'athist Iraq, Uday Hussein's daily newspaper Babil, which at one point referred to the Shi'ites as rafidah, a sectarian epithet for Shia regularly used by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims,[33] attacked Wahhabi clerics as hypocrites for endorsing Misyar while denouncing Mut'ah.[34]

In Twelver Shia Islam[edit]

The Twelver Shias as the main branch of Shia Islam[35][36] give arguments based on the Quran, hadith (religious narration), history, and moral grounds to support their position on mut'ah.[37][38][39] Firstly, the word of the Quran takes precedence over that of any other scripture, including the An-Nisa, 24, known as the verse of Mut'ah.

A Twelver Shia hadith attributed to Ali ibn Yaqteen notes that Musa al-Kadhim, the seventh of The Twelve Imams, when asked about nikah mut'ah, said,

Why do you [ask], when you [Ali], with the blessing of Allah, have a wife at your side? He [Ali] replied, 'No, I just want to know.' Imam Kadhim replied, "The permissibility is present within the Book of Allah".[40]

Hadiths also record the use of nikah mut'ah during the time of Abu Bakr, a caliph and sahabi. Later, in 16 AH (637 CE), Umar, also a caliph and sahabi, prohibited mut'ah. Shias allege Umar's prohibiting nikah mut'ah was an incident of challenge to Mohammad.[41][42][43]

Other relevant hadiths include those of Imran ibn Husain (see Hadith of Mut'ah and Imran ibn Husain), and Abdullah Ibn Abbas. The opinion of Ibn Abbas is cited in Fatih al-Qadir ("Ibn Abbas said the verse of Mut'ah"); in Tafseer Mu'alim al Tanzeel (Ibn Abbas said, "The verse of Mut'ah was an order and it's Halal."); in Tafseer Kabeer (The verse of Mut'ah appears in the Qur'an, no verse has come down to abrogate it."); (in Bukhari) ("On that, a freed slave of his said to him, "That is only when it is very badly needed and (qualified permanent) women are scarce, or similar cases." On that, Ibn Abbas said, "Yes."").

Historically, Twelver Shias see that nikah mut'ah has varied in its spiritual legality, changing from halal to haraam and back again over time, and thus cannot be considered in the same light as, for example, taking alcohol, which was never advocated by Mohammad.[44]

Other Twelver Shia hadiths are not in favor of Mutah marriage because Imam Baqir and Imam Jafar told their companions and their followers to be careful in practicing of mut´ah in fear of prosecution.[45]

Abdullah Bin Umair asked Abi Ja'far [as]: Is it acceptable to you that your women, daughters, sisters, daughters of your aunts do it (Mut'ah)? Abu Ja'far rebuked him when he mentioned his women and daughters of his aunts. Because due to the question being of the ignorant kind, and that the question was only asked to rise frustration about the matter of mut´ah.

In another Twelver Shia hadith narrated from Imam Jafar Ul Sadaq Narrated by A'maar: Abu Abdullah, Imam Jafar Sadaq said to me and to Suliman Bin Khaled: "I from myself have made mut'ah haram on to the both of you, as long as you are in Medina. And this because you come to me all to frequent, and I fear the followers of the other party will capture you and prosecute you because of your friendship to me". Al Kafi Pp 467.V5.Wiasal Shia Pp22.V21.[46]

Zaidi Shia view[edit]

The Zaidi also reject Mutah marriage.

In many early Zaidi books like Mujmoo Imam Ali Pp 498 V112. 2, Hadiths narrated by Ali bin Abi Talib state:

"Allah's Messenger forbade the temporary marriage in the year of Khaybar." Mujmoo Imam Ali Pp 499 V112. 3, Ali bin Abi Talib said to a man who was engaging in Mutah: "You are a straying person, the Messenger of Allah has forbidden temporary marriage"[47]

Zaidites and Ismailites dismissed all claim made by Athana Asheri, The Twelver Shia about Mutah legality and class text that try to justify it as fabrications.

Zaidites and Ismailites argue that it is narrated from Imam Jaffar ul Sadiq to Imam Ismail Ul Mubarak that these texts are fornication and that it is adultery, Zina bil raza.[48]

Zaidites and Ismailites argue that the traditions banning Mutah are classified as Muthawathar, highly authentic.[49]

Scholarly views[edit]

Nikah Mut'ah in our eyes is false, whilst Imam Malik deemed it permissible, as proof he says it was halaal and permissible, it was removed and was not abrogated[50][verification needed][51][verification needed]

(So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due,) was revealed about the Mut`ah marriage. A Mut`ah marriage is a marriage that ends upon a predeterminied date. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Leader of the Faithful `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "The Messenger of Allah prohibited Mut`ah marriage and eating the meat of domesticated donkeys on the day of Khaybar (battle).[52]

Nevertheless, Ibn Abbas did not retract the permission he gave for deonkey meat and temporary mariirage... As for temporary marriage, he only rendered this permissible in case of need while travelling. As for the prohibition, that referred to when circumstances involved indlugence of wealth or lust. Various of his associates and followers have adopted the position. This was well known to be the view of the scholars of Hijaz up to Ibn Jurayj snd beyond. There is an account relating that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal took the same psoition as ibn Abbas; however, this account is weak.[53]

In the account collection of Ahmad (b. Hanbal), the musnad, as well as in the sunan, it is stated that this (the prohobotion of the mut'a marriages) csme at the hijjat at-wada', the "farewell pilgrimage", But God knows best.[54]

The Shiite view that Mut'ah is absolutely lawful and permissible has no sanction and support in the Qur'an or Sunnah. The fact is that a few of the Companions, their followers and jurists who regarded it permissible in the early days of Islam, did so only in case of extreme necessity and need. None of them held the view that it was absolutely lawful like marriage and could be practised in normal circumstances. Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Abbas, who is generally cited as a prominent supporter of the view of permissibility, has himself explained his position thus: "It is just like carrion which is lawful for a person only in extreme necessity." Even Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas had to revise his opinion when he saw that people were abusing permissibility and had started practising Mut'ah freely regardless of genuine need and necessity... Holding Mut'ah as absolutely permissible, practising it without any real necessity, or resorting to it even when one has a legally wedded wife or wives is a kind of licence which is abhorred by good taste, much less it be attributed to the Shari'ah of Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) and imputed to the learned jurists of his family.[55]


Mut'ah as adultery[edit]

Sunnis have criticised the practice of Nikah mut'ah as a "lustful act under a religious cover".[56]

Mut'ah as prostitution[edit]

Some Sunni and Shia scholars hold the view that this kind of temporary marriage in the present age amounts to prostitution. Following the 2014 release of an 82-page document detailing Iran's rampant prostitution, Mut'ah marriage has been suggested by Iranian parliamentarians as a solution to the problem – where couples would be allowed to publicly register their union through the institution of Mut'ah marriage.[57] The establishment of chastity houses has also been proposed in the past where prostitutes will be provided in state sanctioned houses, but the clients would have to perform the Nikah Mut'ah first. This proposal has not been as of yet ratified by the Iranian authorities.[58] According to Shahla Haeri, the Iranian middle class itself considers it to be prostitution which has been given a religious cover by the fundamentalist authorities.[59]

Some Western writers have argued that mut'ah approximates prostitution.[13][60] Julie Parshall writes that mut'ah is legalised prostitution which has been sanctioned by the Twelver Shia authorities. She quotes the Oxford encyclopedia of modern Islamic world to differentiate between marriage (nikah) and Mut'ah, and states that while nikah is for procreation, mut'ah is just for sexual gratification.[61] According to Zeyno Baran, this kind of temporary marriage provides Shi'ite men with a religiously sanctioned equivalent to prostitution.[62] According to Elena Andreeva's observation published in 2007, Russian travellers to Iran consider mut'ah to be "legalized profligacy" which is indistinguishable from prostitution.[63] Religious supporters of mut'ah argue that temporary marriage is different from prostitution for a couple of reasons, including the necessity of iddah in case the couple have sexual intercourse. It means that if a woman marries a man in this way and has sex, she has to wait for a number of months before marrying again and therefore, a woman cannot marry more than 3 or 4 times in a year.[64][65][66][67][68]

Similarities to Zoroastrian practices[edit]

The practice of Shia mutah also has been shown to have similarities to Zorostarian brother-sister mutah. In both religions mutah is seen as a holy act in which preforming brings you divine rewards or bring you closer to divinity, whereas refusal to engage in such an act is a sin and you can be punished with hell. In Shiaism the more someone does mutah the closer to the status of Ali, whereas in Zoroastrianism the more someone does mutah the more magical powers they will gain and more demons and witches will die. [69] This concurs with what many Muslim scholars say, that shiaism is merely syncretism between Islam and pre-Islamic paganism and zorostarian beliefs and practices. [70][71]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]