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Nikāḥ al-Mut‘ah (Arabic: نكاح المتعة marriage for pleasure), or sigheh (Persia), is a fixed-term marriage contract according to the Usuli Shia schools. It that allows couples to have religiously sanctioned sex for a limited period of time, without any commitments, and without the obligatory involvement of religious figures.. The duration of this type of marriage is fixed at its inception and is then automatically dissolved upon completion of its term. The period is minimum one hour and the contract is subject to renewal. The upper limit is one year according to Foreign Policy and 99 years according to Akbar Aghajanian of Fayetteville State University. Financial payments may be made between the couple, usually with the male paying the female.
Muslims have consensus (ijma) on interpretation of the following verse in the Quran:
And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise.[Qur'an 4:24]
The Nikah al-Mut‘ah is used in Shi‘ah Islam in various ways:
- It is used in modern times when people move from one place to another, such as from one country to another. Thus students, workers, scholars are allowed to fulfil their sexual and emotional needs if they are in another country. It may lead to permanent marriage afterwards.
- It may be used to satisfy one's sexual needs. There are no requirements of having a witness, a written contract or permission from authorities (Although some people might prefer to complete the contract in the presence of a learned Muslim).
- It may be used to become mahram "unmarriable" with somebody with whom they do not intend to cohabit or have a married relationship, but with whom they spend a lot of time (for example, share a house). In order to ease the hijab "modest dress" rules, they engage in a nikah al-Mut‘ah, specifying in the marriage contract that no physical contact is allowed.
- Two people who live under the same roof but are not mahram (un-marriable) and must observe hijab may engage in a symbolic nikah al-mut‘ah with the others' offspring for a minimal amount of time (two minutes or less). The Nikahu’l-Mut‘ah does not need to have any practical consequence, but it will make the parent and the offspring's husband or wife permanently mahram to each other, and thus no longer obliged to observe hijab rules.
- Young unmarried couples may decide to use nikahu l-Mut‘ah as a permissible alternative to zina. Thus in practice they engage in something very similar to western relations (that is, there is the potential of permanent marriage), but it differs in that there is a specified time as to how long the relationship is to last, with the possibility to prolong that period.
- Some divorced men and women prefer to commit for only a few years at a time.
Nikah al-Mut‘ah resembles a nikah ("permanent marriage") in many, but not all, aspects. It commences in the same way as a Nikah except that a date of expiration for the marriage is added to the marriage contract and the wife has her rights restricted to some extent. The duration is decided by the couple involved. There are no restrictions about minimum and maximum duration. If the period is longer than what can be reasonably expected to be a lifetime, it will transform into a nikah.
During the period of the marriage, the couple are considered husband and wife, just as in a permanent marriage. At the expiration, the marriage is voided without undergoing a talaq "divorce". In case of sexual intercourse, the woman must observe the iddah "waiting period" before she can marry anyone else. Nikah al-Mut‘ah is considered mustahab (recommended) by the Shia. The Shia also regard it as mustahab (recommended) to extend the marriage or to transform it into a permanent one.
Differences from permanent marriage
Nikah Mut'a is a marriage with a pre-set time. It is important to note that different Marja "authorities" may give different fatwa "legal rulings" on some issues. Many of the following rules may be changed in the Islamic marriage contract.
- The marriage is agreed upon to be voided after a pre-set time. This permits the couple to expect and prepare emotionally for the end of the marriage.
- No divorce is necessary. In Shi‘a fiqh ("jurisprudence"), a divorce is viewed as a complex process involving mediators and a period aimed at giving the couple the chance to reconcile. This is not necessary in Nikahu’l-Mut‘ah, since the marriage does not end due to disharmony but due to the preset time being reached.
- The husband may void the Nikahu l-Mut‘ah earlier than agreed. If he does and they have had sexual intercourse, he must give her full mahr "bride gift". If they have not had intercourse, he must give her half that amount, though the recommended precaution is that he should give her full mahr. A distinction between a talaq "divorce" in a nikah and voiding a nikahu l-mut‘ah is made in a conversation reported in a hadith collection..
- The couple do not inherit from each other. Since the marriage is not permanent, the couple is not considered a single, merged unit.
- The husband is financially responsible for any children resulting from the marriage. As it is believed that a woman should not be burdened with the responsibility of providing for a family, she is allowed to work and spend her money as she chooses.
- The wife may leave her house against her husband's will.
- The husband need not pay for the wife's expenses. This complements the above point.
- It is permitted to marry a woman from Ahl al-Kitab "People of the Book" (followers of monotheistic religions). The difference in jurisprudence between different religions is overcome by this rule. It is understood that the Muslim Nikah does not have an equivalent form among the People of the Book. Therefore, women who are of the People of the Book are unaccustomed to the special rules of Nikah, for example, the husband's responsibility for the wife's expenses or the wife's not leaving her house against the husband's wishes. These difference in religious laws make it desirable to wait with the higher level of commitment that Nikah requires until they are overcome, in order to minimize potential friction in family life.
- The wives are not counted toward the maximum of four. Since the husband is not required to support the wife, and the marriage is not permanent, the circumstances leading to the restriction of having no more than four wives does not apply. However, many Shi‘a scholars have ruled that one cannot take more than four temporary wives.
- The Nikahu l-Mut‘ah can be used exclusively for the aim of having sex.
Similarities between Nikah al-Mut‘ah and Nikah
- The woman might require the consent of her wali ("Legal Guardian") if she is a virgin. However, there is no consensus among the Grand Ayatollahs on this issue. Most Marjas like Ali Sistani require father's permission, to prevent someone taking advantage of her inexperience; while there are few others who do not require guardian's permission.
- A contract is engaged when entering the marriage. Shi‘a believe that the marriage contract does not require having witnesses, a written contract or permission from authorities.
- The woman observes iddah at the end of the marriage That is, she must wait before remarrying - but only if she had sexual intercourse.
- Shias requires no witnesses, or permission from authorities to enter a marriage ref.
- Men are not allowed to marry women of non-Monotheistic religions, and women can only marry Muslims.
Differences from "modern dating"
Although nikah mut'ah is usually portrayed in the western media as a form of "Islamic dating", there are a few differences between it and modern western dating, mainly:
- A woman is required to observe an iddah (waiting period) after their breakup, if they have consummated their relationship.
- It is forbidden for women to have Nikah Mut'ah with non-Muslims, and men are not permitted to have Nikah Mut'ah with women of non-monotheistic religions.
- The two parties must have a verbal consent, although some Shias believe that implicit consent is also acceptable.
- In the Nikah Mutah the woman cannot have a relationship with two men or more but in modern dating the woman can see more than one man.
Difference of opinion
This topic is controversial in the Muslim world. Twelver Shia deem it as a blessing revealed in the Qur'an intended to make everyday life easier, while Sunnis and other Shia condemn the practice, disputing its presence in the Qur'an, and adducing that Muhammad never prescribed it and he himself never practiced it.
Although this is the main fiqh difference between Twelver Shia and Sunnis, it is still merely a fiqh issue and not relevant to the core beliefs. The question is whether Muhammad or Umar abolished it, it does not define whether one is Shi'a or Sunni.
To see the hadith that Shi'a and Sunni use to support their arguments, see Hadiths related to Nikahu l-Mut‘ah.
Most Sunnis believe this type of marriage was practiced only before Islam and during the earlier times of Muhammad. In the hadith below, Muhammad told Sahaba to "do it" since it was made acceptable. However, within the same Hadith, Muhammad clearly mentions that this form of marriage was to be banned.
- Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah and Salama bin Al-Akwa:
- While we were in an army, Allah's Apostle came to us and said, "You have been allowed to do the Mut'a (marriage), so do it." Salama bin Al-Akwa' said: Allah's Apostle's said, "If a man and a woman agree (to marry temporarily), their marriage should last for three nights, and if they like to continue, they can do so; and if they want to separate, they can do so." I do not know whether that was only for us or for all the people in general. Abu Abdullah (Al-Bukhari) said: 'Ali made it clear that the Prophet said, "The Mut'a marriage has been cancelled (made unlawful)."bukhari 062.052.
But Sahih Muslim mentions some Sahaba benefited from this type of marriage during the time of both ‘Umar and Abu Bakr Muslim 3248. The reason for Mut'a is explained in sahih bukhari as only when it is very badly needed
- Narrated Abu Jamra:
- I heard Ibn Abbas (giving a verdict) when he was asked about the Mut'a with the women, and he permitted it (Nikah-al-Mut'a). On that a freed slave of his said to him, "That is only when it is very badly needed and women are scarce." On that, Ibn 'Abbas said, "Yes." bukhari 062.051.
Thus according to Sunni Scholars, this type of marriage used to be allowed in early Islam, but then was banned permanently like many other banned things in Islam such as consuming of alcohol which was allowed in the beginning and banned later on in steps. To be easy on those who converted to Islam, so they would not have to let go of everything the instant they became Muslims. And so dictates human nature that habits good or bad do not change overnight.
It was banned by Prophet Muhammad at Khaibar along with eating of Donkey meatbukhari 059.527. another Hadith by a different Narrator is
The complete Hadith:
- Narrated Muhammad bin 'Ali:
- 'Ali was told that Ibn 'Abbas did not see any harm in the Mut'a marriage. 'Ali said, "Allah's Apostle forbade the Mut'a marriage on the Day of the battle of Khaibar and he forbade the eating of donkey's meat."Some people said, "If one, by a tricky way, marries temporarily, his marriage is illegal." Others said, "The marriage is valid but its condition is illegal." bukhari 086.091
Furthermore, Sunni’s comment that the forbiddance of nikah mut’ah is even stated in Shi’a texts by Imam Ali himself.
According to Usuli Shia scholars Mut'a is a valid marriage. Muslims in countries that permit Nikahu’l-Mut‘ah, such as Iran, have varying views on this form of marriage, depending on how it is used. Some practices are viewed as being more legitimate (in some cases, even encouraged), while others are viewed as irresponsible.
According to Shia scholar Kashaanee, nikah mut’ah offers the person engaged in it great rewards.
||“One who engages in Mut’ah once in his lifetime reaches the status of Imam al-Husayn. One who engages in it twice becomes equal in status to Imam al-Hasan. The one who performs it three times reaches the position of Imam Ali. And he who practices it four times acquires the level and position (equal to that) of the Prophet Muhammad.”
With regards to the comments Imam Ali made, Shi’a state that he was using Taqiyya when he mentioned the prohibition of nikah mut’ah, for fear of his safety from his opponents.
Some Muslims believe that this institution was established by God through Muhammad in the Qur'an. Its single mention in the Qur'an is verse 4:24.
The prominent Sunni exeges ibn Kathir states in his Tafsir:
- Arabic: فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَـَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً
- "Then give those of these women you have enjoyed the agreed dower" was revealed on the subject of the mut‘ah marriage. A mut‘ah marriage is a marriage that ends upon a predetermined date.Tafsir ibn Kathir Sunni site.
The event of revelation was during the battle of Hunayn in 9 ah (631 CE) Muslim 3432.
Tabari in his Tafsir writes under this verse a hadith from Mujahid:
- The phrase "Then give those of these women you have enjoyed the agreed dower" means the temporary marriage (nikahu l-mut‘ah).ref
Sunni Scholars, however, say 4:24 does not permit temporary marriage. The refutation of this is the fact that prior to this Allah mentions the women whom a man is forbidden to marry, then he mentions what is permissible for him, and He commands the man to give to the woman he marries her mahr.- Shaykh Munnajjid (1) Shi'a scholars argue that is not relevant because the individual verse permits Istamta'tum by means of contract. The preceding and anteceding verses give the guidelines as to whom is permissible to marry. The full verse is:
- (Shakir): "And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) God's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely God is Knowing, Wise."
- ^ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/25/the_militarization_of_sex
- ^ a b http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/25/the_militarization_of_sex
- ^ a b http://faculty.uncfsu.edu/aaghajanian/papers/iraned2.pdf.
- ^ a b c See website of a Grand Ayatollah and refer to temporal marriage fatwas.
- ^ Muwatta 28.6.16
- ^ http://photo-origin.tickle.com/image/135/0/2/O/135028214O971296222.jpg
- ^ (پايگاه اطلاع رسانى حضرت آية الله العظمى جناتى (مد ظله العالى
- ^ a b http://photo-origin.tickle.com/image/100/3/7/O/100375044O531984102.jpg
- ^ The rules mentioned here are common amongst all marjas, refer to their websites
- ^ Including: Tahdhib al-Ahkam, by Shaykh Tusi, vol. 7, pg. 251, rewaya 10, and Al-Istibsar, by Shaykh Tusi, vol. 3, pg. 142, rewaya 5
- ^ Tafseer Minhaj us-Saadiqeen (Tehran: Daar Kutub Islamiyyah, 1396 A.H.), by Kashaanee, pg.356
- ^ Including: Tahdhib al-Ahkam, by Shaykh Tusi, vol. 7, pg. 251, rewaya 10, and Al-Istibsar, by Shaykh Tusi, vol. 3, pg. 142, rewaya 5
11 - "mutah." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.
12 - Law of Desire. Temporary Marriage in Shi'i Iran, by Shahla Haeri, Syracuse University Press, 1989
13 - "USAToday.com - 'Pleasure marriages' regain popularity in Iraq"
Fatāwa from different marja: