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Zawaj al-Mut’a (Temporary Marriage) – Halal or Haram?

This is a translated article, original source: Shaykh Muhammad Abbas Dohaini

Incorrect Belief

Some people believe that Zawaj al-mut’a (temporary marriage) is unconditionally halal and it is permissible – or even mustahab – for a man to have mut’a with women without any limitation in terms of numbers and without any condition such as urgent need, during travelling etc.

There are some explicit narrations which indicates lawfulness of mut’a from what is mentioned in Qur’an and revealed on Prophet (saw) and emphasize this type of marriage, contrary to those which prohibit it and imposes stoning or flogging on the one who commits it.

Historical Narrations

While such narrations are true, it is necessary to base them on specific conditions or exceptional circumstances. And this becomes clear from many narrations which asks for avoiding mut’a or staying away from it based on primary or secondary ruling (unwan al-awwaliyya wal-thanawiyya).

And therefore, there are narrations which are explicit about its permissibility, and even mentions its desirability – at all times, irrespective of during travel or not, whether one is in need of it or not, and permits with all women, whether with virgin girl with the restriction of not entering. The purpose of such narrations was to protect the law(shariah) of mut’a in those times when it was propagated that temporary marriage is prohibited in all circumstances. However, (considering all the narrations on this subject), the permissibility of mut’a is limited to noble purpose, exceptional cases and necessary circumstances such as:

  1. To maintain chastity, a single man who cannot marry permanently because of financial or social circumstances etc. If his desires (shahwah) urges him and he fears to fall into forbidden relationship.
  2. And similarly, for a married man:
    1. During long travels, such as Hajj or ziyarah or business travel that requires him to stay away from his wife for a long period.
    2. Or when the wife is ill and unable to fulfill the natural need of the husband
    3. Or when the husband has excessive sexual urges which cannot be fulfilled by one wife, and he cannot marry permanently with another woman because of the costs and expenses such as housing, daily necessities, etc.
  3. And similarly, women who are not approached (for permanent marriage) by men because of their social circumstances such as widows, divorcees, unmarried older women.

Also, it should be performed with the following considerations:

  1. Maintaining the modesty, decency and secrecy.
  2. Considering the need of it
  3. Taking into account all the conditions of shariah, as mentioned in detail in the narrations. Some are as follows:
    1. Verbal wording (sigha) as defined by shariah for mut’a (temporary marriage)
    2. Specified duration
    3. Specified mahr
    4. No inheritance between them
    5. No demand for child
    6. No iddah (waiting period) for man
    7. Iddah (waiting period) for woman is one menstrual period or one and half menstrual period or two complete menstrual periods or two periods of purity or 45 days (see wasail al-shia 21:43-45)
    8. It should not resemble immorality or prostitution

And all of this is summarized by Amir al Momineen Ali (as) in his narration: “If Umar had not forbade mut’a, no one would commit fornication except the wretched.”

The purpose of this law is not to turn women into commodity or element of temptation or turn men into human wolves with no purpose other than to fulfill their desires and lusts with countless women even if they are virgins.

Also, the narrations which encourages (mut’a) at least once in life – the purpose of these narrations is to ensure that this law which is intended for social reforms and to prevent moral corruption is not lost. And these narrations do not in any way encourages mut’a many times throughout the life as some ignorant claims who abuses religion and its teachings with their false beliefs and odd views.

From Halal to Haram

Therefore, the ruling can change when mut’a, whose purpose is reform and prevent the corruption, transforms to an act which entails corruption such as slander on its doer – whether man or woman- or corruption of the women (permanent wives) because of their husbands engaging in mut’a or if it becomes an act of fun or amusement. As an example, for a man with a permanent, righteous and obedient wife, the ruling will change from mubah or mustahab to makruh or haram.

This is what great scholars have understood from narrations which forbids mut’a to everyone or in certain conditions.

Opinion of Shaykh al-Kulayni

1. Obligation on the needless to abstain from Mut’a

Shaykh al-Kulayni says in Al-Kafi Chapter – It is necessary to abstain (from mut’a) for the one who is needless. And he quoted narrations that indicates this. And from them:

He (Shaykh al-Kulayni) narrated from Ali b. Ibrahim, from his father, from Ibn Abi Umayr, from Ali b. Yaqtin, he said: I asked Abu al-Hassan Musa (as) about mut’a, so he said: “What do you have to do with that, for Allah has already made you needless of it?” I said, “I only want to learn about it.” Then he said, “It is in the Book of ‘Ali, peace be upon him.” So, I said, “Do we increase it and is it multiplied?” He said, “Is there anything that pleases him except that?”

Al-Kafi 5:452

And he (Shaykh al-Kulayni) narrated from Ali b. Ibrahim from al-Mukhtar b. Muhammad b. al-Mukhtar and Muhammad b. al-Hassan from Abdullah b. al-Hassan al-Alawi, from al-Fath b. Yazeed, he said: I asked Abu al-Hassan about mut’a, so he said: It is absolutely halal (and) permissible for the one whom Allah has not made him free of need by marriage, so he seeks chastity by mut’a. If he is without need of it by marriage, then it is permissible for him if he is absent from her.

Al-Kafi 5:453

2. Prohibited if it entails corruption of women

And he (Shaykh al-Kulayni) narrated from number of his companions from Sahl b. Ziyad from Muhammad b. al-Hassan b. Shamun, he said: Abu al-Hassan (as) wrote to some of his followers: Do not insist on mut’a, only the establishment of the Sunna is upon you. And do not preoccupy (yourself) with it from your beds and wives, then they would do kufr and call upon the authorities to you by that, and they would curse us.

3. Prohibition as Taqiyyah

And he (Shaykh al-Kulayni) narrated from Ali b. Muhammad from Salih b. abi Hammad from Ibn Sinan from al-Mufadhal b. Umar, he said: I heard Aba Abdullah (as) saying about mut’a: Abstain from it. Are not any of you ashamed to be seen in the place of blemish, and that is placed upon his righteous brothers and companions?

And al-Kulayni narrated from many of his companions from Sahl b. Ziyad from both Ali b. Asbat and Muhammad b. al-Hussain, from al-Hakm b. Miskin from Ammar, he said: Abu Abdullah (as) said to me and to Sulayman b. Khalid: I have prohibited mut’a on you both so long as you are in Madinah. Because you frequently visit me, and I fear that you might be taken into account, and it would be said, “These are companions of Jafar.”.

al-Kafi 5:467

Opinion of Shaykh al-Mufid between dislike and prohibition

Shaykh al-Mufid says:

Mut’a was considered makruh(disliked) or possibly haram for a period due to taqiyyah. Regarding this, there is a narration from Sahl b. Ziyad – as quoted earlier – and narration from Ali b. Yaqtin – also quoted earlier – and narration from al-Mufadhal – also quoted earlier – and narration from Sahl b. ziyad from many of his companions that Aba Abdullah (as) said to his companions: Abstain from mut’a in al-Haramain and that is because you have visit me a lot, and I am not assured that you will (not) be taken and it will be said: These are from the companions of Jafar.

And a group of our companions said that the reason for the prohibition of Abu Abdullah(as) from it in the haramain was that Aban b. Taghlab (who) was one of the rijal of Abu Abdillah and from the chiefs of them, so he married a woman in Mecca, and he had a lot of wealth. So, the woman tricked him and put him in a box of hers, then sent to the bearers. So, they bore it to the gate of as-Safa then they said: O Aban, this is the gate of as-Safa, and we want to proclaim about you that Aban b. Taghlab wanted to fornicate with a woman. So, he ransomed himself for ten thousand dirham, and that reached Abu Abdillah. So, he said to them: Do not go to them in their houses and abstain from it in the two Sanctuaries (haramain).

Khulasa al-ijaz 57-59

And our companions narrated from more than one person from Abi Abdullah (as) that he said to Ismail al-Jufi and Ammar al-Sabati: I prohibit mut’a on two of you by me so long as you are visiting me. And that is because I fear that you will be taken and stricken and defamed. So it will be said: These are the companions of Jafar.

Opinion of the Shaykhayn – al-Hurr al-Amuli and al-Noori: Disliked for the one who is needless or when it entails corruption

Shaykh al-Hurr al-Amuli in Wasael al-Shia 21:22-23 and similarly Shaykh al-Noori in Mustadrik al-Wasael 14:455-456 suggested its dislikeness as they said (named the chapter as): Chapter on dislikeness of mut’a for the one who is needless of it and if it causes abomination or corruption of women. Then they quoted some narrations mentioned earlier.

It is a filth – so avoid it

Al-Noori mentioned number of narrations which indicates -in his view- dislikeness but it possibility indicates prohibition. As its being (called as) filth then it’s not appropriate for a believer to go for it. Quoting from Kitab al-Nawadir attributed to Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa al-Ashari, he said:

Muhammad b. abi Umayr narrated to me from Abdillah b. Sinan, he said: I asked Aba Abdillah (as) about mut’a. So he said: “Do not defile yourself with it”.

Since this narration has been quoted from Kitab al-Nawadir attributed to Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa al-Ashari, we would like to mention other narrations stated in the same book. All these narrations discourage this act (mut’a) and set requirements and conditions for it – which means that mut’a is not permissible, desirable or encouraged at all times and for all people. And it is only – as we have indicated – a law with noble purpose. So, when this purpose is absent, it transforms into fulfillment of lust and seeking pleasure, and it resembles to something which is offensive to dignity, violation of honor, spreads permissiveness without any control. This should not be attributed to Islamic shariah as it is against the values of the religion.

Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa al-Ashari from al-Qasim b. Muhammad from Jamil b. Salih from Abi Bakr al-Hadharmi, he said: Abu Abdullah (as) said: O Aba Bakr, beware you of the virgins that you marry them in mut’a.

al-Nawadir 84

And from Ibn abi Umayr from Jamil b. Salih from Muhammad b. Marwan and from Abu Abdil Malk b. Amr, he said: I asked Aba Abdillah (as) about mut’a. So he said: Its affair is severe, so avoid the virgins.

al-Nawadir 86

And from Ibn abi Umayr from Hisham b. al-Hakm from Abi Abdillah (as), he said: None does it amongst us but the dissolute women.

al-Nawadir 87

And from Muhammad b. Ismail b. Bazi’, he said: I asked Aba al-Hasan (as): Is it permissible for a man to do mut’a, … I said: and I gather from them as many I wish? He said: (he was silent for a while), then he said: Leave it (Abandon it).

al-Nawadir 88

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