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Nikāḥ al-Mutʿah (Arabic: نكاح المتعة)," is a type of marriage used in Twelver Shia Islam, where the duration of the marriage and the dowry must be specified and agreed upon in advance.(p242)(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 they are in nikah (marriage in Islam)). Al-Mutʿah marriage was also practiced by the pre-Islamic Arabs. Zaidi Shia, Ismaeli Shia and Sunni Muslims do not practice Nikah Mutah. The practice is often viewed as a cover for promiscuity or prostitution.
Mutah is practiced under the Twelver Shia jurisprudence. The bride must not be married. She must be Muslim or belong to ahl-e-kitab (people of the book). She should be chaste and not be addicted to fornication and she should not be a young virgin (especially if her father is absent and cannot give consent). These conditions must be established through due diligence.
At the end of the contract, the marriage ends and the wife must undergo iddah, a period of abstinence from sexual intercourse. The iddah is intended to give certain paternity to a child should the wife become pregnant during the contract.
Generally, the Nikah mut'ah has no proscribed minimum or maximum duration. 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.
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). Shias and Sunnis do agree that, initially, or near the beginning of Islam, nikah mut'ah was a legal contract. Beyond that time, the legality of the practice is debated.
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. Muawiyah (602 - 680 AH), a mediaeval Sunni caliph, 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.
The scholar, ‘Abd ar-Razzaq as San‘ani (744 CE), described how Saeed bin Jabeer 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".
By contrast, in the Sahih al-Bukhari, Mutah marriage is classed as forbidden because Ali bin Abi Talib said that he heard Muhammad say that it is forbidden. As narrated by 'Ali bin Abi Talib: "On the day of khaibar, Allah's Apostle forbade the Mut'a (i.e. temporary marriage) and the eating of donkey-meat." In another text, Sahih al-Bukhari (Volume 9, Book 86, Number 91), Ali bin Abi Talib also said that it was forbidden.
Many early Shia texts also state that Ali said Mutah marriage was forbidden and for this reason the Zaidi Shia, the oldest branch of the Shia do not practice Mutah marriage. Shia book like Tahdeeb: vol. 7, pg. 251, rewaya 10 and Istebsar: vol. 3, pg. 142, rewaya 5 also said that Ali said that Mutah marriage was forbidden because Muhammad told him.
Other early Shia books also recorded that Imam Baqir forbade Mutah Marriage 'Tahdeeb al Ahkam' and 'Furu al Kafi':Pp476.V2/Pp34.V5 and there was no recorded case of it in Ali's family.
Zaidi Shia view
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"
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.
Zaidites and Ismailites argue that the traditions banning Mutah are classified as Muthawathar, highly authentic.
Nikah mut'ah in Sunni Islam
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 regarding 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. 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.
While according to the actual book Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas, the oldest book on Islamic Jurisprudence, Mutah was banned because Ali ben Abu Taleb said that Mutah was banned by Muhammad him self on the day of Khaibar. For this reason the Zaidi Shia do not practice Muatah 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"
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 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.
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 practised and this is proven, and as evidence of permissibility they cite verse 24 of Surah Nisa as proof. The practise of Mut'ah is definite and there is ijma (consensus) on this and you can't 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.
- Some Sunni scholars deem Mut'ah permissible, in the same way the Sahaba Ibn Abbas and Imran bin Haseen deemed it permissible.
Nikah mut'ah in Twelver Shia Islam
The Twelver Shias give arguments based on the Quran, hadith (religious narration), history and moral grounds to support their position on mut'ah. 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.
- 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".
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.
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."); and in Tafsir ibn Kathir and by Ibn Hanbal ("Mut'ah can be utilised when needed.") and by Abu Jamra (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.
Other Twelver Shia hadiths are not so in favor of Mutah marriage because Imam Baqir and Imam Jafar were not in favor of it.
Imam Baqir, recorded in 'Tahdeeb al Ahkam' and 'Furu al Kafi':P p476.V2 / Pp34.V5
Abdullah Bin Umair asked Abi Ja'far [as]: Is it acceptable to you that your women, daughters, sisters, daughters of your aunties do it (Mut'ah)? Abu Ja'far rebuked him when he mentioned his women and daughters of his aunties.
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 made Mut'ah Haram on you". AL Kafi Pp 467.V5.Wiasal Shia Pp22.V21."
In other books Ja'far Al-Sadiq said in a narration by Abdallah bin Sinan: "I asked Abu Abdullah about Mutah. He said: "Don't defile yourself with it"
The classical Twelver Shia books like AL Kafi, AL Istabsar, Tahzeeb Ul Ahkam, Min La Yadrhu Fiqa say "The Holy Prophet [s] and the Imams of Ahlubayt never practised Mut'a".
According to many early Shia books Imam Jaffar Ul Sadaq classed Mutah as Adultery.
Following the 2014 release of an 82-page document detailing Iran's rampant unsanctioned sexual relationships, mutah 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 mutah marriage. The establishment of Chastity Houses, as a similar remedy, has been proposed in Iran in the past.
Even though nikah mutʿah is prohibited by Sunni schools of law, several types of non-permanent marriage exist, including misyar (ambulant) marriage and ʿurfi (customary) marriage. Some regard misyar as being comparable to nikah mut'ah: for the sole purpose of "sexual gratification in a licit manner".
The practice of temporary marriage has been called a euphemism for religiously sanctioned prostitution and a workaround for modern Muslims desiring a western-style dating relationship while still following the dictates of their religion and/or the laws of their country. The Christian missionary Thomas Patrick Hughes criticized Mut'ah as allowing the continuation of "one of the abominable practices of ancient Arabia."
- Mut'ah of Hajj
- Hadiths related to Mut'ah
- Marriage of convenience
- Islamic marital jurisprudence
- Nikah 'urfi
- Nikah Misyar
- Jihad al-nikah
- Walking marriage
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