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Nikah mut‘ah

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Nikāḥ al-mutʿah (Arabic: نكاح المتعة‎, literally "temporary marriage"), 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.[1][2](p242)[3](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). Al-mutʿah marriage was also practiced by the pre-Islamic Arabs. Zaidi Shia, Ismaeli Shia and Sunni Muslims do not practice Nikah Mutah.

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).[4] 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.[2][5]

Generally, the Nikah mut'ah has no proscribed minimum or maximum duration.[6][7][8] 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.[5]


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).[1] Shias and Sunnis do agree that, initially, or near the beginning of Islam, nikah mut'ah was a legal contract.[3][9] 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.[10] 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.

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".[11]

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."[12] 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 practise 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[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"[13]

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.[14]

Zaidites and Ismailites argue that the traditions banning Mutah are classified as Muthawathar, highly authentic.[15]

Nikah mut'ah in Sunni Islam[edit]

Sunni Muslims consider mut'ah in the same class as alcohol in Islam: it was allowed at one time and then completely and permanently banned by Muhammad. The evidence for this comes from the Hadiths in Sahih Bukhari where the narrator who is Ali says On the day of Khaibar, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) forbade the Mut'a (i.e. temporary marriage) and the eating of donkey-meat[16]

The above hadith was confirmed by Ali's son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah in Sahih Muslim on the authority of his father who said that Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) on the Day of Khaibar prohibited forever the contracting of temporary marriage and eating of the flesh of the domestic asses [17]

Although the ban was put in place during the time of Muhammad, some people like Jabir bin Abdullah continued to practice it. The explanation given by Scholars of hadith is that the hadith of Khaibar was not known to everyone and since many Muslims lived in far flung places of the Arabian peninsula, they continued practicing it until the formation of the caliphates. Jabir himself only stopped practicing it once he came into contact with caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab[18]

In the Qur'an, Sunni Muslims quote Surah al Mu'minoon ayahs 6-7 [19] as further proof that mut'ah is not sanctioned in Islam. Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir of the above ayahs says whoever seeks beyond that, meaning wives and right hand possessions, then those are the transgressors A woman contracted to mut'ah is neither a wife nor a slave girl.[20]

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.[2][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.[2][21]

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 himself 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 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.[3]

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] However it should be noted that 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 hadeeth 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.

Nikah mut'ah in Twelver Shia Islam[edit]

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.

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".[27]

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.[28][29][30]

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.[31]

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."[32]

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"[33]

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".[34]

According to many early Shia books Imam Jaffar Ul Sadaq classed Mutah as Adultery.[35]

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.[36] The establishment of Chastity Houses, as a similar remedy, has been proposed in Iran in the past.

Misyar marriage[edit]

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.[37] Some regard misyar as being comparable to nikah mut'ah: for the sole purpose of "sexual gratification in a licit manner".[3][38][39]

Scholars allowing nikah mut‘ah[edit]

Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i[edit]

Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, a 9th century Sunni Shafi'i Islamic scholar writes:

Ahmad ibn Hanbal[edit]

Ahmad ibn Hanbal, a 9th century Sunni Islamic scholar writes:

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi[edit]

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, a 20th century Sunni Islamic scholar writes:

Other views[edit]

The Christian missionary Thomas Patrick Hughes criticized Mut'ah as allowing the continuation of "one of the abominable practices of ancient Arabia."[47]

Media Debates on Mut'ah[edit]

Famous Salafi scholar Allama Ibtisam Ilahi Zaheer and Khurram Zaki hold a recorded debate, with other participants, on Nikah mut'ah on ARY program Sar-e-Aam.[48] This open debate, heavily referenced from all sides, stirred a lot of controversy and subsequent protests from banned terrorist outfit ASWJ.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Berg H. "Method and theory in the study of Islamic origins." Brill 2003 ISBN 9004126023, 9789004126022. Accessed at Google Books 15 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Hughes T. "A Dictionary of Islam." Asian Educational Services 1 December 1995. Accessed 15 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Pohl F. "Muslim world: modern muslim societies." Marshall Cavendish, 2010. ISBN 0761479279, 1780761479277 Accessed at Google Books 15 March 2014.
  4. ^ "(پايگاه اطلاع رسانى حضرت آية الله العظمى جناتى (مد ظله العالى." Jannaati website. Accessed in Arabic 15 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b Esposito J. "The Oxford dictionary of Islam." Oxford University Press 2003 p221 Accessed 15 March 2014.
  6. ^ "The four pillars of Mut'a: the time period (mudda)." website. Accessed 15 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Marriage, question 24." Alulbayt Foundation, Rulings of Grand Ayatullah Sistani. Accessed 15 March 2014.
  8. ^ Labi, Nadya. "Married for a Minute". Mother Jones. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Motahhari M. "The rights of woman in Islam, fixed-term marriage and the problem of the harem." website. Accessed 15 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Hadith" Fath al-Bari Vol 9 p143 - 144. At website.
  11. ^ "Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq, Kitab al Talaq, Bab al Mutah, Hadith 14020." website.
  12. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 527
  13. ^ Mujmoo Imam Ali Pp 498 V112. 2)Narrated Ali, Mujmoo Imam Ali, From Imam Ali to Imam Hasan & Imam Hussain then Narrated to Imam Zian Ul Abideen to Imam Zaid bin Zian Ul Abideen.Pp 503 V112. Classified all above Zaidites narration as Mutawathar [Highly Authentic] By Imam Ziad bin Zian Ul Abideen in his Majmoo tul Biyan Pp212 V18.
  14. ^ Kitab ul Mola.Pp414.V21
  15. ^ Irshad Ul Imam.Pp112,V11. Darajat Ul AL Imam Azam Imam Ismail bin Imam Jaffar ul Sadaq.Pp421.V23.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Müller F. "Introduction to the science of religion." Kessinger Publishing 1882 p? reprint 1 December 2004. ISBN 141797401X, 9781417974016
  22. ^ The Muwatta of Imam Malik, By Imam Malik B Anas 95-179 AH Publisher Darul Ishaat Karachi Pakistan page 546
  23. ^ Tafsir al-Kabir (al-Razi), volume 3 p95, Sura Nisa verse 24
  24. ^ Tafseer Gharab al Quran part 5 p4, Sura al Nisa
  25. ^ Tafsir Haqqani Volume 2 p?
  26. ^
  27. ^ Furu al-Kafi "Mutah" Tehran 1391 AH, printed edition, Volume 5 p452.
  28. ^ Tabataba'i M. "Shi'ite Islam." The Other Press 2010 p210 - 213 Accessed 4 April 2013.
  29. ^ Winter K. "The woman in the mountain: reconstructions of self and land by Adirondack women writers." SUNY Press 1989. Accessed 4 April 2013.
  30. ^ "Temporary marriage in Islam." Al (a Shi'ite encyclopaedia) website. Accessed 15 March 2014.
  31. ^ "Hadith Sunnah." Bukhari 062.052 at University of Southern California website.
  32. ^ Minhaj Saduq Pp304.V7. Sheikh Sadra Hassan[With Good Chain of Narration] in his Commentry on AL Kafi.Pp461.V4.
  33. ^ Bihaar Al-Anwar, Volume 100, page 318 By AL Majlisi. Classfied as Hasan[With Good Chain of Narration] by him and sheikh Safar AL Shafi Saheeh[Authentic] in his AL Shafi,Pp61.V8.
  34. ^ AL Kafi.AL Istabsar.Tahzeeb Ul Ahkam.Min La Yadrhu Fiqa. [Mutawathar] Pp198,V12/Pp501.v6/Pp 241.V18.Pp34.V1.
  35. ^ Kitab ul Mola.P412.V21
  36. ^ Sexual mores in Iran: Throwing off the covers,
  37. ^ Ruffle K. Mut'a "Mut'a." Oxford Bibliographies website document.
  38. ^ Lod M. "Islam and the West: the clash between Islamism and Secularism." Strategic Book Publishing, 2011 p58 - 59. ISBN 1612046231, 9781612046235.
  39. ^ Elhadj E. "The Islamic shield: Arab resistance to democratic and religious reforms." Universal Publishers 2006 p51. ISBN 1599424118, 9781599424118.
  40. ^ Al Hidaya Volume 1 p. 13
  41. ^ a b See also Fath al-Bari Volume 9 p. 73 Dhikr Mut'ah
  42. ^ Fatawi Qadhi Khan Volume 1, p. 151 al Nikah Fayl
  43. ^ Tafsir ibn Kathir Volume 1 p. 14, Sura Nisa verse 24
  44. ^ Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah Volume 4 and p. 94, Dhikr Khayber
  45. ^ Ibn Kathir's in his Tafseer, Surah an-Nisa, Page 3 under the verse 4:24 [1]
  46. ^ Turjuman al Qur'an in his commentary of Sura Al-Muminun, [1955 edition] (see also Hadith of Mut'ah and Sura Muminun)
  47. ^ "In permitting these usufructuary marriages Muḥammad appears but to have given Divine (?) sanction to one of the abominable practices of ancient Arabia, for Burckhardt (vol. ii. p. 378) says, it was a custom of their forefathers to assign to a traveller who became their guest for the night, some female of the family, most commonly the host’s own wife!" Hughes, T. P. (1885). In A Dictionary of Islam: Being a Cyclopædia of the Doctrines, Rites, Ceremonies, and Customs, together with the Technical and Theological Terms, of the Muhammadan Religion. London: W. H. Allen & Co.
  48. ^ Khurram Zaki#Debate about term marriage .28Mut.27ah.29

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