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We believe that a true and comprehensive understanding of Islam would not be possible without careful recognition of the Prophetic Tradition and the Prophet's Household. And Allah is the Source of Strength.

Muta: Temporary Marriage in Islam

Muta is considered as prostitution by people who do not know and who don't want to know. In making fun of Muta and lieing about it, they forget that Muta was once allowed in Islam and Quran, the only conflict is with regards to it's abrogation.

 Fixed-Term/Temporary/Pleasure Marriage are different names for the Arabic word of "Mut'a" which is a contract between a man and woman, much in the same way the Long-Term/Permanent/Conventional Marriage is. The main difference is that the temporary marriage longs only for a specified period of time, and man and woman will become stranger to each other after the expiration date without divorce. One misconception regarding temporary marriage is that some people think that the woman engaged in temporary marriage can have contract every other hour. This is completely misrepresentation of temporary marriage. After such contract has been expired, the woman has to wait for two months (Iddah) before which she can not marry any one else. This issue, among others, will be discussed later in detail. Besides, there are many other conditions for performing Muta as well.

The issue of Muta and it's abrogation will be divided into 2 parts, the Quran and the Ahadith.

The first one who legislated Mut'a with all the rules pertaining to it, was the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF), after it was revealed in Quran. All Muslims agree that the Messenger of Allah legislated Mut'a and made it legal after his migration to Medina, and the Muslims practiced it during his lifetime.
al-Mughni, by Ibn Qudamah, v6, p644, 3rd Edition

However there is a disagreement between the Shia and most of the Sunnis concerning whether the Prophet later banned it or not. Most Sunnis assert that although the Prophet legislated it, he later forbade it. This is while the Shia believe that temporary marriage was never abandoned by the Prophet (PBUH&HF). Besides no Quranic verse was revealed to ban the previous Quranic verse which made Muta legitimate, and Hadith can not oppose Quran. Allah revealed it in Quran, and it was being widely practiced to the end of his lifetime and during the period of Abu Bakr and the early days of Umar's rule, until Umar forbade it.

Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek them (with a dowry) from your property, desiring chastity, not fornication. So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due, but if you agree mutually (to give more) after the requirement (has been determined), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise
Quran [4:24] (Translation by Ibn Kathir)

In the above verse, the Arabic equivalent of the word "marriage" or any of its derivatives has NOT been used. Rather "Istamta'tum", the derivative of word "Mut'a" (pleasure/temporary marriage) has been used. The word Istamta'a is the tenth verbal form of the root m-t-a. As we will show shortly, the word Istamta'a has also been widely used in the authentic Sunni collections for Temporary Marriage. Of course, Mut'a is one type of marriage, but some of it's regulations are different than the permanent marriage, including the fact that the couple can extend this contract by mutual agreement as the end of verse specifies.

Mujahid stated that, (So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due,) was revealed about the Mut`ah marriage. A Mut`ah marriage is a marriage that ends upon a predeterminied date.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 4, Verse 24

Jabir did not relate "Istamta'a" to consuming the marriage in general. Furthermore Allah states, "...And there is no sin for you in what you both agree after fulfilling the duty (i.e., dowry of the first contract)". The mutual agreement after the duty refers to extending the period of temporary marriage after full payment of the previous dower, so that the woman can freely decide on the continuation of the marriage with no pressure or temptation. In this way, Allah encourages that people who are engaged in Mut'a will get more reward if they extend it to a bigger period (or perhaps convert it to a permanent marriage) by assigning a new dower after fulfilling the previous dower.
Tafsir al-Tabari, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the verse 4:24, v8, p180.

Another reason for the fact that the dowry mentioned in the above verse (4:24) does not refer to permanent marriage, is that Quran has already talked about the dowry for permanent marriage at the early part of the very same chapter.  Allah is discussing different types of marriages: first, permanent marriage in the verses (4:3), then temporary marriage in (4:24), and then marriage with the slave girls in (4:25).  Thus Allah repeated the issue of dowry three times, one for permanent marriage, one for temporary marriage and one for the bondwomen.

This verse was revealed towards the beginning of the Prophet's stay in Medina. By the revelation of this verse, the temporary marriage became a legal custom in Medina and was looked upon as one kind of marriage and was referred to by the term Istimta'a, the same word employed in the Quranic verse - even though the literal meaning of the word is "to seek benefit" or "to take enjoyment". Hence the meaning of the Quranic verse must be understood in terms of the conventional usage of the time, for as is well-known in the science of Quranic commentary and Islamic jurisprudence, the Quran follows the conventional usage of the people in all edicts and legal prescriptions. If someone wants to understand a word in the Quran in other than the conventional meaning of the time, he must supply a strong reason for doing so. Moreover if one looks up the traditions of the chapter of temporary marriage in the authentic Sunni collections such as Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, one can see that the messenger of Allah and his companions exactly used the word Istimta'a when referring to this contract, which is exactly the same word as what Quran employed.

The Prophet made a lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) to Mecca, and the women of Mecca made themselves up especially for the occasion. Some of the Companions complained about the long separation from their wives, and the Prophet replied: "Then go and enjoy (Istamta'a) these women."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi (
the famous Sunni theologian), v3, p286

Thus the fact has been brought to light that Muta is allowed by the Quran itself. Where does the difference lie then?

In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Leader of the Faithful `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "The Messenger of Allah prohibited Mut`ah marriage and eating the meat of domesticated donkeys on the day of Khaybar (battle).'' In addition, in his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ar-Rabi` bin Sabrah bin Ma`bad Al-Juhani said that his father said that he accompanied the Messenger of Allah during the conquest of Makkah, and that the Prophet said, (O people! I allowed you the Mut`ah marriage with women before. Now, Allah has prohibited it until the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, anyone who has any women in Mut`ah, let him let them go, and do not take anything from what you have given them.)
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 4, Verse 24

According to Sunnis, Muta was practiced till 7th Hijri (i.e. after migration to Madina). This is agreed by almost all sunnis. But the argument lies whether it was prohibited later on by Allah or not. Before i continue, this point must be remembered that Muta was once allowed in Islam, so why criticize it such that it was a thing of pre-islamic days?   

The Sunnis claim that the Prophet (SAW) later on banned Muta. This has complicated things alot. A hadith and it's authenticity can be highly challenged. The same is not true with the Quran. If we start taking the ahadtih over the Quran in cases of their confliction, then we will easily be misguided. There must have been a Quranic verse which should have abrogated an existing Quranic order. Even if we believe that this verse was abrogated and no longer valid, then it's presence in the Quran doesn't make any sense and would only be misguiding generations to come. Something which is not applicable and is abrogated should not remain a part of religion any more, and similarly, not remain a part of the Quran.

However, we will analyze all the ahadith which talk about the abrogation of Muta.

To go ahead, i  would like to quote a shia claim from a sunni reference.

 Umar said: Two types of Mut'a were (legal) during the time of the Prophet and I forbid them both, and I punish those who commit it. They are: Mut'a of pilgrimage and Mut'a of women.
Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Fakhr al-Razi, v3, p201 under verse 4:24 -
Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v1, p52

Thus as everyone agrees that Muta of women was once a part of Islam, its abrogation is absent from the Quran. Infact, we claim it was Umer who forbade Muta and we are followers of Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad (SAW), not Umer thus we press for the permissibility of Muta due to the wisdom in it which will be discussed later on.

As far as forbiddance of the Muta of Pilgrimage is concerned, the following references should be sufficient.

Musa b. Nafi reported: I came to Mecca as a Mutamattil for Umra (per- forming Umra first and then putting off lhram and again entering into the state of Ihram for Hajj) four days before the day of Tarwiya (i. e. on tee 4th of Dhu'l-Hijja). ........ Ata' said: Jabir b. 'Abdullah al'Ans-ari (Allah be pleased wa'th them) narrated to me that he performed Hajj with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) in the year when he took sacrificial animals with him  and they had put on Ihram for Hajj only (as Mufrid). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Put off Ihram and circumambulate the House, and (run) between al-Safa and al-Marwa. and get your hair cut and stay as non-Muhrims. When it was the day of Tarwiya, then put on Ihram for Hajj and make lhram for Mut'a (you had put on Ihram for Hajj, but take it off after performing Umra and then again put on Ihram for Hajj). They said: How should we make it Mut'a although we entered upon lhram in the name of Hajj? He said: Do whatever I command you to do. .......
Sahih Muslim , Book 7, Hadith 2799

Mutarrif reported: 'Imran b. Husain said to me: Should I not narrate to you a hadith today by which Allah will benefit you subsequently-and bear in mind that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made some members of his family perform 'Umra within ten days of Dhu'l-Hijja. No verse was revealed to abrogate that, and he (the Holy Prophet) did not refrain from doing it till he died. So after him everyone said as he liked, (but it would be his. personal opinion and not the verdict of the Shari'ah).
Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Hadith 2824

This hadith been narrated on the authority of Jurairi with the same chain of transmitters, and Ibn Hatim said in his narration:" A person said according to his personal opinion, and it was Umar."
Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Hadith 2825

Mutarrif reported: ...... I am blessed, and bear in mind that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) combined Hajj and Umra. Then no verse was revealed in regard to it in the Book of Allah (which abrogated it) and the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) did not forbid (from doing it). And whatever a person (, Umar) said was out of his personal opinion.
Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Hadiths 2828-2831

Sa'id b. al-Musayyab reported that 'Ali and 'Uthman (Allah be pleased with them) met at 'Usfan; and Uthman used to forbid (people) from performing Tamattu' and 'Umra (during the period of Hajj), whereupon 'Ali said: What is your opinion about a matter which the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) did but you forbid it? Thereupon Uthman said: You leave us alone, whereupon he ('Ali) said: I cannot leave you alone. When 'Ali saw this, he put on Ihram for both of them together (both for Hajj and 'Umra).
Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Hadiths 2816

Thus we see that the statement Umer made was extremely authentic historically and he was the reason for forbidding the Muta of Pilgrimage.

As far as the Muta of women are concerned, Quran allows it and we don't find any verse abrogating it. The conflict within the ahadith will be discussed.

Narrated '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.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 527
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Hadith 50

Narrated 'Abdullah: Nafi narrated to me that 'Abdullah said that Allah's Apostle forbade the Shighar. I asked Nafi', "What is the Shighar?" He said, "It is to marry the daughter of a man and marry one's daughter to that man (at the same time) without Mahr (in both cases); or to marry the sister of a man and marry one's own sister to that man without Mahr." Some people said, "If one, by a trick, marries on the basis of Shighar, the marriage is valid but its condition is illegal." The same scholar said regarding Al-Mut'a, "The marriage is invalid and its condition is illegal." Some others said, "The Mut'a and the Shighar are permissible but the condition is illegal."
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 86, Hadith 90

'Abd al-Malik b. Rabi' b. Sabraal-Juhanni reported on the authority of his father who narrated it on the authority of his father (i e. 'Abd al-Malik's grandfather, Sabura al-juhanni): Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) permitted us to contract temporary marriage in the Year of Victory, as we entered Mecce, and we did come out of it but he forbade us to do it.
Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Hadiths 3257-3260

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)."
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Hadith 52

Iyas b. Salama reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave sanction for contracting temporary marriage for three nights in the year of Autas and then forbade it.
Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Hadith 3251

Thus we come to know that:

There are only 4 such Ahadith, which are transmitted by only 3 Sahaba (through different chains). Please don't get confuse when presented by a lot of Ahadith. If you see the chain, then they return to only these 3 persons. The names of these 3 companions are:

  1. Rabi Ibn Sabra (who narrates it from his father Sabra Jahani) 
  2. Ali Ibn Talib 
  3. Salma b. al-Akwa' 

All narrations of these 3 companions are contradictory to each other with respect to the "Time of Prohibitition Of Mutta" 

The above ahadith cannot be simultaneously used in order to abrogate a Quranic verse and prove prohibition of Mutta by Rasool Allah as they themselves cannot decide when the prophet forbid Muta, If the Prophet really did so.

On the contrary, in the same books, we find ahadith which are strong advocates of Muta and do not speak about it's prohibition.

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."
Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 51

Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported: We were on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and we had no women with us. We said: Should we not have ourselves castrated? He (the Holy Prophet) forbade us to do so He then granted us permission that we should contract temporary marriage for a stipulated period giving her a garment, and 'Abdullah then recited this verse: 'Those who believe do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Allah does not like trangressers" (al-Qur'an, v. 87).
Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3243

Salama b. al. Akwa' and Jabir b. Abdullah reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to us and permitted us to contract temporary marriage.
Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadiths 3246-3247

Coming to the Shia claim that as Quran has allowed a blessing in the name of Muta, a verse should have to come to abrogate it which obviously did not, because it was never prohibited by the Prophet (SAW) himself. There from where do rumors related to the forbiddance of Muta arise?

Ibn Uraij reported: 'Ati' reported that jibir b. Abdullah came to perform 'Umra, and we came to his abode, and the people asked him about different things, and then they made a mention of temporary marriage, whereupon he said: Yes, we had been benefiting ourselves by this temporary marriage during the lifetime of theHoly Prophet (may peace be upon him) and during the time of Abi Bakr and 'Umar.
Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3248

Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: We contracted temporary marriage giving a handful of (tales or flour as a dower during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and durnig the time of Abu Bakr until 'Umar forbade it in the case of 'Amr b. Huraith.
Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3249

Abu Nadra reported: While I was in the company of Jabir b. Abdullah, a person came to him and said that Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn Zubair differed on the two types of Mut'as (Tamattu' of Hajj 1846 and Tamattu' with women), whereupon Jabir said: We used to do these two during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). Umar then forbade us to do them, and so we did not revert to them.
Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3250

We can however also see traditions in Sunni texts pointing towards the fact the Muta has continued till the time of caliphate of Abu Bakr as well as Umer, until Umer forbadse something which was allowed by Allah and his apostle.

Imran Ibn Husain narrated: "The verse of Mut'a (4:24) was revealed in Allah's Book, and there did NOT came any other verse after that to abrogate it; and the Prophet ordered us to do it, so we did it at the time of Allah's Apostle, and he did not forbade us from it till he died. But a man (who regarded it illegal) expressed what his own mind suggested."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Tha'labi, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran

Also in another Sunni commentary it is reported that: Umar said, while on the pulpit: "O folk! Three were (allowed) during the time of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF), and I forbid them, and make them Haraam, and punish on them. They were: Mut'a of women, Mut'a of Hajj (pilgrimage), and saying 'Hayya Ala Khair al-Amal'."  
Sharh Al-Tajreed, by al-Fadhil al-Qoshaji, (Imama Section)
al-Mustaniran, by al-Tabari

The third item mentioned above which was prohibited by Umar, is what is said in the Call for Prayer and Iqaamah after the phrase "Hayya Ala al-Falah", and it is practiced by the Shia to this date. It means "Hasten for the best deed". This part of call for prayer was abolished by Umar as well. Instead, he replaced it by the sentence: "Prayer is better than sleep"!

"He (Umar) is the first who made Mut'a forbidden (Haraam)." 
Tarikh al-Khulafaa, by al-Hafidh Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, p136 

Also Both Ibn Jarir al-Tabari and al-Zamakhshari narrated that: "al-Hakam Ibn Ayniyah was asked if the verse of Mut'a of women is abrogated. He answered: 'No'." 
Tafsir al-Tabari, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran, v8, p178 
Tafsir al-Kashshaf, by al-Zamakhshari, under the verse 4:24, v1, p519 

Also al-Qastalani wrote: The phrase "But a man said with his opinion what he wished" (as was mentioned in the authentic Sunni books such as Sahih al-Bukhari), is Umar Ibn al-Khattab and not Uthman, because he was the first to forbid Mut'a. So the one came after him (i.e., Uthman) was only following him in that action." 
al-Irshad, by al-Qastalani, v4, p169 

The question thus arises that if Mut’a was mentioned in the Qur’an, & was accepted by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), how is it that the Caliph who came to power After Mohammad (PBUH) can rule Mut’a as forbidden when Allah permitted it in the Qur’an and Prophet (PBUH) accepted it as the Almighty’s word?

Imran Ibn Sawadah reported: I went to Umar's house and told him that I want to give him some advice. His reply was, "The person giving good advice is welcomed anytime." I said, "Your community finds fault with you on four accounts." Umar put the top of his whip in his beard and the lower part on his thigh. Then he said, "Tell me more." I continued, "It has been mentioned that you declared the lesser pilgrimage forbidden during the months of pilgrimage..." He answered, "It is permitted. (But the reason that I forbade it was that) if they were to perform the lesser pilgrimage during the months of the pilgrimage, they would regard it as being a lieu of the full pilgrimage, and (Mecca) would be celebrated by no one, although it is part of God's greatness. You are right." I continued, "It is also said that you have forbidden temporary marriage, although it was a license given by God. We enjoy a temporary marriage for a handful (of dates), and we can separate after three nights." He replied, "The Messenger of God permitted it at the time of necessary. Then people regained their life of comfort. I do not know any Muslim who has practiced this or gone back to it (after I forbade). Now, anyone who wishes to, can marry for a handful (of dates) and separate after three nights. You are right." I continued, "You emancipate a slave girl if she gives birth, without her master's (consenting to) the emancipation... (and the fourth complain is) There have been some complaints of your raising your voice against your subjects and your addressing them harshly." ... 
History of al-Tabari, English version, v14, pp 139-140 

This clarifies the fact that mut’a was not forbidden by Prophet PBUH & that the hadith regarding forbidding Mut’a were fabricated & created to cover & justify what Umar had forbidden & Allah has permitted.  If it truly was the word of Allah, you would not be able to find such contradictory statements in history regarding the issue.  After all, sunni’s do claim the Caliph’s as rightly guided & possessing immense knowledge, then why such contradictions to the word of the Qur’an and Prophet (PBUH) who would surely not go against the word of Allah, the Qura’n.  If Prophet (PBUH) had really forbidden mut’a as some sunni’s claim, why is it that Umar had to forbid it again?

I hope i have clearified the confusion with Muta. The question now arises that what are the rules and regulations of Muta and why is/was Muta required?

"Ali said: The Mut'a is a mercy from Allah to his servants. If it were not for Umar forbidding it, no one would commit (the sin of) fornication except a (Shaqi/Shafa).
al-Nihaya, by Ibn al-Athir, v2, p249 
al-Faiq, by al-Zamakhshari, v1, p331 
Lisan Al-Arab, Ibn Mandhoor, v19, p166 
Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v8, p293 

The Imam Ja'far (AS) considered Mut'a a divine mercy by means of which people were saved from the sin of fornication and delivered from God's retribution. Concerning the Quranic verse: "Whatsoever mercy God opens to men, none can withhold (35:2)," the Imam said: "Mut'a is part of that mercy."
 Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p439

It must be noted that Muta is the last resort. If situation of extreme sexual urge arises, one must try to get married permanently. If it is not possible due to some reason, one must try to fast and do efforts to control his urge until he can marry a believing woman permanently. If this however fails again, the doors of Muta are still open in Islam and in the School of Thought of the Ahlulbayt which helps people refrain from adultery..

Despite the validity of the concept of mut’a, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed in order to enter a contract for mut’a marriage. 

There are Four statutes or pillars of temporary marriage or mut’a.  Though a whole detailed article can be written about the rules of contract marriage, here is presenting a few basic guidelines in general.

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