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Temporary marriage from A to Z

By: Fatema Makki

The issue of temporary marriage has been put on the table for quite some time. It has started a wave of a passionate debate in which opponents and proponents argue fervently. While some claim that temporary marriage provides an outlet for men and women who are incapable of concluding a marriage, abolitionists regard it rather as a means that provides ultimate sexual freedom and openness. The jurisprudential stance provides an overview on the matter and discusses the guidelines that govern the matter.

In accordance to the view of His Eminence, the late Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra):

It has been said that temporary marriage is an innovation that was never part of the Islamic Tradition. However, examining the legislative point of view, one asks whether temporary marriage is a fixed Islamic code or a code that existed at one time but cancelled now. The answer to this question is given by Sunni and Shiite scholars. Depending on certain traditions, most Sunni scholars see that temporary marriage was legislated during the prophet’s time, but was cancelled later.

On the other hand, the Shiite scholars assign temporary marriage as a fixed Islamic code-they defend their point of view by deriving evidence from the Imams of the Members of the Household (a.s.), who emphasize the fact that temporary marriage is as legal as permanent marriage.  Although the caliph Omar forbid temporary marriage, some people see that this forbiddance is administrative and not legislative. It is reported that even Abdullah, Omar’s son, used to believe in the legality of temporary marriage, and once he was inquired how he allowed what his father had forbidden. He replied: “How would I forbid what the Prophet allowed.” In fact, temporary marriage is an endless controversial issue.

As to the philosophical perspective, temporary marriage is a resolution for a human problem that is the fulfillment of human sexual needs. Definitely, marriage, in all religions, aims at solving sexual problems, and thus securing the natural atmosphere for reproduction.

The aim of temporary marriage is getting pleasure and not establishing a house and making a family. What should men in their twenties or thirties do with their sexual instincts if they do not have the chance of permanent marriage? How should we help these men? Should we recommend that they seek permanent marriage, knowing that their circumstances do not allow them to do so? Should they deviate or should they find an appropriate solution for this problem?

Asking them to suppress their instincts is neither logical nor practical in an atmosphere full with temptations. Advising them to seek permanent marriage, while they are entirely unable to do so because of the bad economic situation is nonsense. Hence, what is the resolution?

Muslims have agreed unanimously on the legitimacy of “Muta”. Many Haidths showed that it was being contracted during the Prophet’s age as well as during Abi Bakir’s age and a part of Omar’s. Later, the juristic opinion of the juristic sects, other than the Shiites sect, considered it impermissible. Whereas, the Shiites still consider it permissible.

Muta marriage is also called “breakable marriage”, since it is limited by a definite time at the end of which it would be terminated without divorcing. Thus, it is different from the “permanent marriage” which is not limited to a specific time; and would not be terminated unless by divorcing. Muta marriage is similar to permanent marriage in many ways while it is different from it in what follows:

Firstly, in the verbal form of the contract, the dowry (al-mahr) and the period must be stated. The form is.

a. The woman must say to the man: I have wedded you myself and then she states the time period and the dowry.

b. The man says: I accept.

Secondly, this marriage will be terminated when the specific period of time expires, without having to divorce.

Thirdly, the woman whose marriage was consummated (sexually) must finish her Iddat (period in which the woman cannot remarry); in case she wants to marry another person. Its Iddat finishes in two menstrual periods. Therefore, she is legitimately prohibited to remarry before the termination of Iddat. Whereas, if her marriage was not consummated (sexually), she will not observe an Iddat and she has the right to conclude immediately a marriage contract with another man.

Fourthly: The husband is not obliged to support her with money, unless she stipulated this condition in the contract.

Fifthly: in case of death, no one can inherit the other during the contract period.

On the other hand, if the husband wishes to leave his wife before the termination of the specific period, he can donate her the time period and tell her: I donate you the time period. So, she will be separated from him and the contract will be terminated.

If the husband wishes to renew the contract after it is terminated, the Iddat will not be imposed on the wife and she just has to state the verbal form of the contract in order to be remarried. When the time of this marriage ends, the woman can not marry again .She has to wait for three months to be sure that she is not pregnant. Therefore, we can say that what is applied to permanent marriage is also applied to temporary marriage .However, in permanent marriage; the end of the relation (divorce) is in the hands of the man only, while in temporary marriage, the end of the relationship is in the hands of both.

We have to observe that it is unlawful for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, even if he believes in the legitimacy of the Muta. Likewise, it is unlawful for the Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, unless she is of the People of the Book. It is also lawful to conclude this marriage without obtaining the approval of the girl’s guardian. But it is better not to do so due to the moral harm which may affect her future. But in case this marriage was concluded, it is better not to consummate the marriage.

Regarding the conditions of temporary marriage; the woman has to say that I have wedded you myself and she must state the time period and the dowry. The man has to say that he accepted the marriage. The time period and the dowry have to be defined. The woman has to be free: (she ought to be unmarried and has finished the period she ought to stay unmarried after her last marriage. The woman has to be either Muslim or from the People of the Book (Christian or Jew).

It is allowed to conclude a temporary marriage with a virgin if she is an adult, since she has the right to wed herself without the permission of her guardian, but other considerations should be taken into account - like bad reputation the girl might acquire or that she might put herself in a dangerous situation, since it is illegal to endanger oneself in Islamic law even if it were in marriage.

It is important to note that the dowry is not a price to the woman, however, it is a gift as God, the most exalted, said: “And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.” (4:4.) So, the dower could be a copy of the Quran or teaching part of it, or whatever the husband and the wife agree upon.

Temporary marriage is the resolution Islam finds for this problem. It is completely legal, and it is temporary because the man &woman can determine the time limit of this marital relationship. It could also be conditioned. For instance, the woman can condition that the man   must be her financial supporter during their relationship. Temporary marriage is set according to a contract and a dowry. In case the woman gives birth to a child, he is absolutely legitimate and has all the privileges of any child.



Name: Mohammed Khan
Subject: Temporary Marriage
Comment: Hi, Quarn talks in length about marriage, but no where it talks about temporary marriage?? Please do no misguide people - you will be answerable to Allah Almighty.
Answer: Yes, the Quran did mention that in the verse 24 of An-Nisa’ chapter: “And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty”. Moreover, it is agreed upon among all Muslims that temporary marriage was legitimate at the time of the Prophet (p.).


Name: Sara
Subject: mutaa divorce
Comment: If you are married in the mutaa way, and the man tells you "ente tale2" meaning you are divorced, does this mean they are divorced?
Answer: There is no such thing as divorce in temporary marriage; rather, to end such contract, the man has to give up the remaining period to the woman by saying: “I have given my wife so-and-so the remaining duration".