Temporary Marriage in Islam
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.
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. (see 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). 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.
In Parts I through IV, we study the verse of Mut'a marriage in Quran and look into the Sunni commentary (Tafsir) of this verse, and review the traditions reported in the six authentic Sunni collections about Mut'a. In Part V we discuss the purposes of marriage as well as the chronological orders of the prohibition of illegal sex and the permission of Mut'a in the history of Islam. In Part VI the similarities and differences which exist between the two types of marriage are presented in detail. In Part VII we discuss the necessities and the advantages of the temporary marriage, and finally in Part VIII we answer some frequently asked questions regarding to the Mut'a.
Evidences From Quran and the Sunni Commentaries
Allah, to whom belong Might and Majesty, said:
(...Except the forbidden women) the rest are lawful unto you to seek them with gifts from your property (i.e., dowry), provided that you desire protection (from sin), not fornication. So for whatever you have had of pleasure (Istamta'tum) with them by the contract, give unto them their appointed wages as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what you both agree (in extending the contract) after fulfilling the (first) duty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. (Quran 4:24)
In the above verse, the Arabic equivalent of the word "marriage" or any of its derivatives has NOT been used. Rather the derivative of word "Mut'a" (pleasure/temporary marriage) has been used, i.e., "Istamta'tum". 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.
Moreover, if we look at the Sunni commentaries of Quran, many Sunni scholars such as Fakhr al-Razi confirm that the above verse (4:24) was revealed about the Temporary Marriage (Mut'a). They straightforwardly mentioned that temporary marriage became Halaal (permitted) DUE TO the above verse, but they assert that it was later prohibited. It is astonishing that many Sunni commentators mentioned under the above verse that:
Ali (RA) 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 the wretched (Shaqi; an utmost wrong-doer)."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Tha'labi, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran;
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, p200, commentary of verse 4:24;
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under commentary of verse 4:24 with authentic chain of narrators, v8, p178, Tradition #9042;
Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti, v2, p140, from several chain of transmitters;
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, v5, p130, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran;
Tafsir Ibn Hayyan, v3, p218, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran;
Tafsir Nisaboori, by al-Nisaboori (8th century);
Ahkam al-Quran, by Jassas, v2, p179, under commentary of verse 4:24.
A very similar tradition has also been narrated by Ibn Abbas (RA), and was mentioned by al-Tabari and al-Tha'labi in their Tafsir of Quran.
It is interesting to note that Umar did not attribute the prohibition of Mut'a to the Prophet (PBUH&HF). They were others who did that after Umar mainly to justify what he did. Umar clearly mentioned that: "Mut'a WAS permitted at the time of the Prophet and I PROHIBIT it!" The great Sunni scholar, Fakhr al-Razi, who has been given the title of "Imam al-Mushakkikeen" (the leader of ever-questioners/ever-doubtful) by the Sunnis, in his voluminous commentary of Quran mentioned under the verse of Temporary Marriage that:
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
Notice that Mut'a can be of two kinds: Mut'a of women (pleasure/temporary marriage) and Mut'a of Pilgrimage (Hajj al-Tamattu'). The latter is a way of performing Pilgrimage and has no relation with the former which is one way of performing marriage. Both types of Mut'a were practiced at the time of the Prophet and Abu Bakr and the early days of Umar's rule. But they were prohibited by Umar. There is another verse in Quran which gives evidence to the permissibility of the Mut'a of Pilgrimage. However this type of Pilgrimage is not the subject of our discussion here.
As we see from the above quote, Umar did NOT say that Mut'a was canceled by the Prophet. If it was really the Prophet who canceled Mut'a, Umar would have say: The two Mut'a were Halaal and then became Haraam at the time of the Prophet, and I am informing you about the second law set by the Prophet which canceled the first. But it is evident that Umar is straightforwardly saying that he is the one who is making it Haraam!
Al-Zamakhshari, another Sunni commentator of Quran Under the commentary of 4:24, reported that this verse is from the "Muhkamat" of Quran, relating that from Ibn Abbas (RA). (Tafsir al-Kashshaf, by al-Zamakhshari, v1, p519).
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 Ibn Kathir mentioned his commentary:
"al-Bukhari declared that Umar used to forbid people on Mut'a."
Sunni reference: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, v1, p233
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
al-Mustabeen, by al-Tabari
Remark: 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"!
Interesting to know that there are some Sunni scholars who accepted that the Mut'a marriage is legal (Halaal) FOREVER exactly based on the above verse of Quran. Among those scholars are the Tunisian scholar, Shaikh al-Tahir Ibn 'Aashoor, under his Tafsir of the verse 4:24 of Quran. (See al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir", by al-Tahir Ibn 'Aashoor, v3, p5). And there has been such open-minded scholars who did not allow the love of their leaders affect their judgment.
Some tried to cast doubt about the meaning of "Mut'a", by saying that it literally means pleasure and not necessarily a special type of marriage. These people, instead of searching for the practical definition of Mut'a in the History, Hadith, and Jurisprudence, they look it up Arabic dictionary! Even the Arabic dictionary gives the practical meaning of Mut'a, that is temporary marriage. All Shia and Sunni scholars agree to this very fact. al-Qurtubi, who is one of the great Sunni commentators of Quran, wrote: "There is NO dispute among the scholars, either early (salaf) and late (khalaf) scholars, that Mut'a is a marriage for a fixed period of time and that it does not involve inheritance."
Replacing the practical meaning and the linguistic meaning is very dangerous and is prohibited in the religious rules, because one may also say, "Salat" (prayer) means praise/supplication and is not necessarily the acts that Muslims do every day. Or "Zakat" (alms) means "to cleans" and is not necessarily paying money, and so on...
Perhaps such people did not even read the traditions related to "Mut'a of women" which gives its practical meaning used at the time of the Prophet and the early Caliphs and how the companions used to contract by a handful of date as dower. Even the English version of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim have translated the word "Mut'a al-Nisa" to "Temporary Marriage," and they also translated "Istimta'a" to "marrying temporarily", and the traditions in that section which is a section in the chapter of marriage, gives the total picture of its meaning. (Please see Part II for the details of these traditions from Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). Have these people ever heard of any other type of "Mut'a of women" in the history of Islam?
Some also tried to cast doubt about the meaning of the verse of Mut'a in Quran (4:24) by saying that the word "Istamta'a" refers to the consummation of the permanent marriage, after which dowry should be paid.
The above assertion is not correct. The best way to understand the meaning of the verse, is first to learn Arabic (since the exact translation of Quran to any other language is quite impossible), and second, to look at various commentaries (not just a filtered one), and third, to look at the traditions related to temporary marriage to see if they have used the word "Istamta'a". If we do all the three and search completely for different and controversial opinions, then we can say that we are close to the target.
In this part, we already provided references to many Sunni commentaries of Quran, in which the commentators confirmed that the verse was revealed for the temporary marriage, and they mentioned many traditions about the temporary marriage under the commentary of this verse. Then how can this verse be related to permanent marriage?! or perhaps you think these Sunni scholars had some loose screws upstairs. Few lines later, more interesting traditions from the Sunni commentaries under this verse are provided. Yet there many more available.
Moreover, who could we find better that Jabir Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari (RA), the great companion of the Prophet, who according to Sahih Muslim said: "Istamta'a means contracting temporary marriage" (Sahih Muslim, English version, v2, chapter DXLI titled: Temporary Marriage, Tradition #3246. Please see part II for the full Arabic text of the tradition). Jabir did NOT relate "Istamta'a" to consuming the marriage in general.
Furthermore, in the verse 4:24 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. Ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote in his commentary of Quran:
Some traditions mention that the meaning of "And there is no sin for you in what you both agree after fulfilling the duty" means: O people! There is no sin for you to have an agreement between you and the women who you have had pleasure with them in a fixed-term contract, to extend the period at the time when the first period expires, and thus to prolong the temporary marriage by increasing the reward (of the Hereafter) as well as the duty (dowry) before you leave them. It is narrated on the authority of al-Suddy (RA) who said:
"And there is no sin for you in what you both agree after fulfilling the requirement. If the husband wishes he could convince her (to accept the renewal) after paying her the first dowry and just before the expiration date of marriage. In that case he would say to his wife: I contract Mut'a with you for such and such again. Thus he extends it before he leaves her due to the expiration of the first contract, and this is what the verse means." (Tradition #9046)
Sunni reference: 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 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 by saying:
"...Marry women of your choice two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then only one..."
"And give the women (of permanent marriage) their dower as a free gift"
It is clear that the above verses are about permanent marriage and the dowry associated with it. So there would be no need that Allah repeats it along with its associated dowry again in the very same chapter. However if Allah intended to discuss about Mut'a, then it is some thing new. And this can be inferred from the choice of words which Allah used in the verse of Mut'a (4:24) by using the derivative of Mut'a in contrast with the other verses around it.
(...Except the forbidden women) the rest are lawful unto you to seek them with gifts from your property, provided that you desire protection (from sin), not fornication. So for whatever you enjoyed (Istamta'tum) them by the contract, give unto them their wages as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what you both agree (in extending the contract) after fulfilling the duty (i.e., dowry of the first contract). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise.
Thus, in fact, Allah is discussing different types of marriages: first, permanent marriage in the verses before Verse 24, then temporary marriage in Verse 24, and then marriage with the slave girls in Verse 25:
If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women they may wed believing bondwomen from among those whom you rightfully possess, and Allah has full knowledge about your faith. You are one from another; wed them with the leave of their owners and give them their wages according to what is reasonable; they should be chaste not lustful nor taking paramours; when they are taken in wedlock if they fall into shame their punishment is half that for free women. This (permission) is for those among you who fear sin; And if you be patient, it is better for you; and Allah is forgiving and Merciful.
Here Allah mentions the dower related to slave girls. Thus Allah repeated the issue of dowry three times, one for permanent marriage, one for temporary marriage and one for the bondwomen.
Again, to stress that Verse 4:24 was revealed about temporary marriage, we present more traditions from the Sunni commentators. Al-Tabari mentioned that:
Mujahid (RA) said: "The phrase 'So for whatever you have had of pleasure (Istamta'tum) with them by the contract [4:24]' means the Temporary Marriage (Nikah al-Mut'a)."
Sunni reference: Tafsir al-Tabari, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the verse 4:24, v8, p176, Tradition #9034.
Also many Sunni commentary books mentioned similar to the tradition of Sahih al-Bukhari (see part II) with more details and put it under the verse 4:24 of Quran:
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
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, pp 200,202, under the verse 4:24
Tafsir Ibn Hayyan, v3, p218, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran
Tafsir Nisaboori, by al-Nisaboori (8th century)
So it is clear that 'Imran Ibn Husain is talking about Mut'a of women here, otherwise the above Sunni commentators would not put it under this verse, or else such scholars are just stupid (may Allah protect us from such words). The positioning of such traditions is another proof for the fact that the verse 4:24 is about Mut'a of women.
In many traditions in the Sunni commentaries of Quran, the phrase "to an appointed time" has been added to Verse 4:24 after the word Istamta'tum. In other words, it reads "So for whatever you have enjoyed (Istamta'tum) them by the contract to an appointed time":
This however should be considered as commentary of the verse which was revealed along with Quran, but NOT as a part of the Quran. In fact, many verses were revealed by Allah which are not embodied in the present Quran because they were commentaries of the verses of Quran, but not a part of Quran itself. It is well-known that Hadith Qudsi is also revelation, but it is not a part of Quran. In fact Quran testifies that anything that the Prophet said was revelation. Allah Almighty said in Quran about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) that:
"Nor does he (Muhammad) speak out of his desire. Whatever he says is nothing but a revelation that is revealed." (Quran 53:3-4).
Thus all the speeches of the Prophet were revelation, and surely the speeches of the Prophet were not limited to Quran. It also includes interpretation of Quran as well as his Sunnah. Now let's go back to the traditions which I wanted to present. It is narrated that:
Abu Nadhra said: Ibn Abbas (RA) recited the verse 4:24 with the addition of "to an appointed time". I said to him: "I did not read it this way." Ibn Abbas replied: "I swear by Allah, this is how Allah revealed it," and Ibn Abbas repeated this statement three times."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the verse 4:24, v8, p177, Tradition #9038
Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Tha'labi, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran narrating similar tradition from Jubair.
Abu Nadhra said: I asked Ibn Abbas about temporary marriage (Mut'a of women). Ibn Abbas (RA) said: "Do you not read 'For whatever you enjoyed (Istamta'tum) them by the contract to an appointed time'?" I said: "If I would have read it this way, I wouldn't ask you (about temporary marriage)!" He replied: "Certainly the verse is about it."
Sunni reference: Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the commentary of verse 4:24, v8, p177, Traditions #9036-9037
It is also narrated that:
al-Suddy (RA) said: "The verse 'So for those of whom you have had pleasure with them by the contract to an appointed time' is about Mut'a, that is, a man marries a woman with a provision (i.e., dowry) for a fixed period of time and makes two witnesses, and (if virgin,) he asks the permission of her guardian, and when the time period is expired, they should separate and they will not inherit each other."
Sunni reference: Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the commentary of verse 4:24, v8, p176, Tradition #9033
Abu Karib said Yahya said: "I saw a book with Nasir in which it was: 'So for whatever you have had of pleasure with them by the contract to an appointed time.'"
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the verse 4:24, pp 176-177, Tradition #9035
Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Tha'labi, under commentary of verse 4:24 of Quran narrating similar tradition from Ibn Abi Thabit.
Another companion, Ubay Ibn Ka'ab (who based on authentic Sunni sources the Prophet ordered the companions to trust him in the matter of Quran as one of the three trustee persons in this regard. See Sahih al-Bukhari, English, vol. 6, Tradition #521) also mentioned that additional phrase:
Qatadah (RA) said: "The way that Ubay Ibn Ka'ab recited the verse was: 'So for those of whom you enjoyed by the contract to an appointed time.'"
Sunni reference: Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, under the commentary of verse 4:24, v8, p178, Tradition #9041
Beside the above mentioned authorities, there were others such as Sa'id Ibn Jubair, Abi Is'haq, and Umay who have also mentioned this extra phrase when reading this verse. Well, as I said, this extra phrase, though revealed, was only commentary and not a part of Quran. If one wants to write it, he should put it inside curly brackets showing that it is not a part of Quran. There are many of such extra phrases which can be found in both Shia and Sunni sources, but they are only the divine interpretation of the verses.
This concludes the discussion on the Quranic verse of Mut'a and what Sunni commentators had to say about the verse. In the next part, we Insha Allah study the authentic Sunni collections of traditions with regard to temporary marriage.
Temporary Marriage in Islam (Part II)
Evidences From the Sunni Hadith Collections
After a brief overview of books of Tafsir in Part I, let us now look at some of the Sunni collections of traditions. It is narrated in Sahih Muslim that:
Jabir Ibn Abdullah and Salama Ibn al-Akwa' narrated: There came to us the proclaimer of Allah's Messenger (May peace be upon him) and said: "Allah's Messenger has granted you to benefit yourself (Istamta'u), i.e., to contract temporary marriage with women."
Sahih Muslim, English version, v2, chapter DXLI (titled: Temporary Marriage), Tradition #3246
Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v2, p1022, Tradition #13, "Kitab al-Nikah, Bab Nikah al-Mut'a"
In the above tradition the verb Istamta'a (to enjoy; to have pleasure) has been used which is the exact form of the verb used in Quran in the verse of Mut'a 4:24, and moreover, Jabir said in the above tradition that Istamta'a means performing Mut'a of women (temporary marriage). Similarly it is narrated that:
Salama Ibn al-Akwa' and Jabir Ibn Abdullah reported: Allah's Messenger (May peace be upon him) came to us and permitted us to contract temporary marriage.
Sahih Muslim, English version, v2, chapter DXLI (titled: Temporary Marriage), Tradition #3247
Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v2, p1022, Tradition #14, "Kitab al-Nikah, Bab Nikah al-Mut'a"
Moreover al-Bukhari narrated from another companion of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) the following tradition:
Narrated 'Imran bin Husain:
"The Verse of Mut'a was revealed in Allah's Book, so we did it at the time of Allah's Apostle, and nothing was revealed in Quran to make it illegal, nor did the Prophet prohibit it till he died. But a man (who regarded it illegal) expressed what his own mind suggested."
[ Note: For the above Hadith, the Saudi translator of Sahih al-Bukhari (Muhammad Muhsin Khan) has changed the word "Mut'a" to "Hajj-at-Tamatu". This is while in the Arabic text of the Hadith of al-Bukhari which is beside the English text, the word "Mut'a" has been used alone: ]
Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, v6, Hadith #43
Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic, v2, p375, v6, p34
Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v4, p436 on the authority of 'Imran Ibn al-Qasir
As we pointed out, Mut'a can be of two kinds: Mut'a of women (pleasure marriage) and Mut'a of Hajj (Hajj-at-Tamatu). Both were practiced at the time of the Prophet and Abu Bakr an
Debate on the Legitimacy of Mut'a
The following piece is adopted from the book "Temporary Marriage in Islamic Law," by Abul Qasim Gourji, and is presented with some modifications.
The word Mut'a was more commonly used than other terms for temporary marriage both during the lifetime of the Prophet and afterwards. Both its proponents and opponents preferred this word and its derivatives. In books on jurisprudence the terms Mut'a, al-Nikah al-Munqati' (discontinued marriage), and al-Nikah al-Muwaqqat (temporary marriage), Istimta' (having pleasure), and the related word of tamattu' (pleasure) are all employed.
The scholars both Sunni and Shia, agree that Mut'a was permitted at the beginning of Islam. However, they disagree as to the reasons it was permitted.
The Shia View
In the chapter titled "Women", after listing those women to whom marriage is forbidden, the Quran states as follows: "Lawful for you is what is beyond all that, that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in license. So those of them whom you enjoy, give them their appointed wages; it is no fault in you in mutually agreeing after fulfillment (of the wage). God is All-Knowing, All-Wise" (4:24). All Shia scholars and many Sunni scholars hold that this verse - especially the words: "Such woman as you enjoy (Istamta'tum)" - refers to the permissibility of Mut'a. The Shia present several arguments to prove this point. (See Sharh al-Lum'a, v5, p248-253; Jawahir, v5, p163).
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 pre******************ions. 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 context of the verse also indicates that it is referring to the temporary marriage. In the previous verse, i.e. 4:23, the Quran enumerates the women who are forbidden to men. These are divided into seven kinds stemming from blood relationship and seven more stemming from other causes: "Forbidden to you are your mothers and daughters...". The next verse adds a fifteenth category of women forbidden to men: "And married women, save what your right hands own." It continues with the words quoted above: "Lawful for you is what is beyond all that." In other words, any woman not belonging to one of the fifteen categories is permitted, whether by marriage or ownership.
Next the verse states: "that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in license." Grammatically, this clause is in apposition to "what is beyond all that." It explains the legitimate mode of seeking sexual relationships with women, whether as the result of marriage or the purchase of slaves.
The next part of this same verse states as follows: "So those of them whom you enjoy, give them their appointed wages." The word "so" (fa) shows that this part of the verse is either part of the previous subject matter, or an example of it; in other words, its relation to the previous section is either that of the part which is completing the whole, or the particular example to the universal principle. And since the previous section deals with the DIFFERENT KINDS of legitimate sexual relationships, either by marriage or the purchase of slaves, we can conclude that this section of the verse is the exposition of a FURTHER KIND of marriage, not mentioned previously; a kind which also requires that the man pay the wages of his wife.
Many sayings have been related from the Companions of the Prophet and those who followed them (al-Tabi'een) confirming the Shia view that verse 24 of this chapter concerns Mut'a. Several of the companions, including Ibn-Abbas, one of the highly respected companions of the Prophet, Ibn Masud, one of the first to accept Islam, and Ubayy Ibn Ka'ab, one of the scribes of the revelation, and many others used to read the verse with three more words resulting in the sentence of the form: "So those of them whom you enjoy TO AN APPOINTED TIME (Ila Ajal Musamma)." This clearly indicates that the verse refers to Mut'a.
In Majma' al-Bayan, Abu Ali al-Fadl Ibn al-Hasan al-Tabarsi (d. 548/1153), one of the Shia commentator of the Quran summarizes the Shia arguments:
the word 'enjoy' in this verse refers to the marriage of Mut'a, i.e., a marriage for a specified dower and a determined time period. This opinion has been related from Ibn Abbas and many of the 'followers' of the Companions such as Isma'il Ibn Abdurrahman al-Suddy (d. 127/744-45) and Sa'id Ibn Jubair al-Asadi (95/713-14). In fact, this clearly must be the case, for although the words Istimta'a and Mut'a have the literal meaning of 'enjoyment', in Shari'ah (divine law) they refer to the contract of temporary marriage, especially when they are followed by the word 'women'. Hence the meaning of the verse is: 'Whenever you draw up a contract of Mut'a with a woman, you must pay her wages.'
Reference: Majma' al-Bayan, by Abu Ali al-Tabarsi, v3, p32
The Sunni View
As was indicated above, the Sunnis agree that at the beginning of Islam Mut'a was permitted. For example, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 606/1209), the famous Sunni theologian, writes in his Commentary on the Quran that Mut'a was at first permitted. 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, v3, p286)
Those Sunnis who hold that the Quranic verse mentioned above (4:23) does indeed refer to the permissibility of Mut'a also maintain that the verse was subsequently abrogated (Naskh) by other Quranic verses. They offer three arguments to prove their point: other Quranic verses, the sermon of Umar banning Mut'a, and the Hadith transmitted by some Companions. The Shia, in turn, reject each of the arguments:
Debate on the Quranic Verse of Mut'a
Some Sunnis argue that sexual intercourse is forbidden except with one's wife or a slave by reason of the verse: "Prosperous are the believers ... who guard their private parts save from their wives and what their right hands own." (23:14).
According to the Prophet's wife Aisha and others: 'Mut'a is forbidden and abrogated in the Quran where God says: "who guard their private parts..."
(al-Jami' li Ahkam al-Quran, by al-Qurtubi, v5, p130).
The Sunni argument continues by pointing out that without question a woman enjoyed through Mut'a is not a slave. Nor is she a wife, for several reasons: if she were a wife, she and her husband would inherit from each other, since God says: "And for you a half of what your wives leave..." (4:12). But everyone agrees that Mut'a does not involve inheritance. If she were a wife, the child would belong to the husband, since according to the Prophet: "The child belongs to the bed." But again this is not the case. And finally, if she were a wife, it would be necessary for her to maintain the waiting period, since this is commanded by God (2:234); but this also is not the case.
We have already seen that some of these arguments, taken from Fakhr al-Razi's Commentary, do not in fact apply to Mut'a as the Shia understand it. It is the Ijma' of the Shia scholars that the child born of Mut'a belongs to the husband and that the woman is obliged to observe the waiting period after the expiration date of the marriage. However, it will be useful to see how the Shia answer each of the above Sunni claims:
As for the 'abrogation' of the verse concerning Mut'a, historical considerations show that this can not be the case. The verse mentioned as abrogating Mut'a was revealed in Mecca before the migration, while the verse establishing Mut'a was revealed after the Prophet had emigrated to Medina. But a verse which abrogates another verse must have been revealed after it, not before it. It is also well-known that the Prophet allowed the companions to practice Mut'a in Medina, and if Mut'a had already been illegalized in Mecca (before Hijra) by Quran, then the Prophet would not have allowed his companions to practice it after the migration. (Tafsir al-Mizan, by al-Tabatabai, v3, p132).
As for the Sunni claim that a wife by Mut'a is not a legitimate wife because she does not fulfill the religious requirements for being a 'wife', this also is false. In the question of inheritance, the Quranic verse is a general one, and there is no reason to suppose that it may not have certain exceptions. In fact, the specific requirements of Mut'a as established by the Hadith literature show that Mut'a is an exception. Nor is it the only exception, since a non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim, nor can a murderer inherit from his victim. Also if a man is sick and marries a woman, but dies due to that sickness before consummating the marriage, the woman will not inherit from his husband. Thus being husband and wife (even in the permanent marriage) does not always necessitate the inheritance. Quran usually provides the general rules and he was the Messenger of Allah who clarified the exceptions as well as the conditions for applying the rule. In short, inheritance pertains to permanent marriage, but even in permanent marriage it has certain exceptions, so that the verse establishing it cannot be interpreted as nullifying the validity of Mut'a. Also inheritance is possible in the temporary marriage as long as it is made condition at the time of contract. (See Asl al-Shia wa Usuliha, by Kashif al-Ghita', p116; al-Bayan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, by al-Khoei, p219)
In the question of the child, there is no reason to claim that it is illegitimate. In Mut'a the "bed" is legitimate, so is the offspring. (Sharh al-Lum'a, v5, p277)
The Imam Ja'far was asked: "If the wife becomes pregnant as a result of Mut'a, to whom does the child belong?" He replied: "To the father," i.e., the child is legitimate. (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p488)
In a similar manner numerous traditions exist to prove that a wife by Mut'a must observe the waiting period of two months. Some of such traditions are even documented in the Sunni sources. For example Fakhr al-Razi himself quotes a relevant saying from Ibn Abbas that:
Ibn Abbas was asked: "Is Mut'a fornication or marriage?" He answered: 'Neither the one nor the other.' The questioner then asked: "Well then, what is it?" Ibn Abbas replied: "It is Mut'a', just as God has said." The questioner continued: "Is there a waiting period in Mut'a?" He replied: "Yes, a menstrual period." He was also asked: "Do the husband and wife inherit from each other?" He answered: "No."
Reference: Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, p286
Certain Sunnis also argue that Mut'a cannot be considered a legitimate form of sexual union because it excludes such things as inheritance, divorce, sworn allegation, forswearing, and Bihar. Since these necessary concomitants of marriage do not apply to Mut'a, it cannot be considered marriage, so the woman cannot be considered a legitimate wife. If she is neither a wife nor property, sexual intercourse with her is illegitimate: "Prosperous are the believers, who... guard their private parts, save from their wives and what their right hands own. . .; but whosoever seeks after more than that, those are the transgressors" (23:1-7). Hence, people who engage in Mut'a transgress God's law.
A typical Shia answer to this argument runs as follows: First, the Quranic verse is a general statement, and there is no reason why its specific applications may not be clarified by other verses and the traditions. Second, it is not true that the above things are concomitants of marriage: there is no inheritance in the case of a non-Muslim wife, a murderer, or a slave-girl. A legitimate sexual relationship may be dissolved without divorce in the case of a wife who is the subject of a sworn allegation, a spouse who leaves Islam, or a slave-girl who is sold. Sworn allegation, forswearing, and Bihar are all concomitants of permanent marriage, not of legitimate sexual relationships in general (i.e., they do not apply to sexual relationships with a slave). Even if we suppose that these things do in fact pertain to legitimate sexual relationships, then it will be necessary to specify that there are certain exceptions. This is the only way we will be able to combine the Quranic verses and the traditions which show that these pertain to legitimate sexual relationships with those traditions which demonstrate that they do not pertain to Mut'a. (Jawahir, v5, p163).
Debate over the Sermon of Umar
In a famous sermons the second caliph Umar banned Mut'a with the following words: "Two Mut'a were practiced during the time of the Prophet: Mut'a of women and Mut'a of Hajj, but I forbid both of them and will punish anyone who practices either."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, commentary of verse 4:24
Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v1, p52
Al-Razi summarizes the Sunni interpretation of Umar's words by saying that they were pronounced in a gathering of Companions and no one protested. Therefore, the situation must have been as follows: either
everyone knew that Mut'a was forbidden, so they remained silent; or
they all knew that it was permitted, yet they remained silent out of negligence and in order to placate Umar; or
they did not know whether it was forbidden or permitted, so they remained silent since the matter had just then been clarified for them, so they had no reason to protest.
Reference: al-Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, p287
Al-Razi continues by saying that the first possibility is what he is trying to prove. If we maintain the second possibility, then we must call Umar and the companions who were with him unbelievers. For they knew that the Quran and the Prophet had permitted Mut'a, yet Umar went ahead and banned it without the Quranic verse permitting it having been abrogated. This is unbelief (Kufr); and those who knew Umar was wrong without protesting shared in his unbelief. But such a supposition requires that we call Islam a religion of unbelief, which is absurd.
The third possibility that Umar's listeners had not known whether Mut'a was permitted or forbidden is also absurd. For, if we suppose that Mut'a was permitted, then people would need to have knowledge of that fact in their everyday lives, just as they need to have knowledge about the permissibility of marriage. So the legal situation of Mut'a must have been known, just as everyone knew about marriage.
Al-Razi concludes that as soon as we see that the second and third possibilities are in absurd, then we know for certain that the companions remained silent only because they all knew that Mut'a had already been abrogated.
The Shia answer Fakhr al-Razi's arguments as follows: Umar's sermon demonstrates that during the lifetime of the Prophet Mut'a was permitted. The reason Umar attributed the banning to himself is that he wanted to show that he was expressing his own view. If the Prophet himself had prohibited Mut'a, or if its permissibility pertained only to a specific period in time, then Umar would have attributed its prohibition to the Prophet, not to himself. (Majma' al-Bayan, v3, p32).
Another saying concerning Mut'a is also attributed to Umar: "God permitted for His Prophet what He willed, and the Quran has been revealed in its entirety. So complete the Hajj and the Umrah as God has commanded you. But avoid marrying these women, and do not bring before me any man who has married a woman for a specified period, or I will stone him." (Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v2, p885, Tradition #145. For English version see: v2, chapter CDXLII, Tradition #2801)
As for the fact that no one protested against Umar's pronouncement cannot be considered proof that the Prophet himself had forbidden Mut'a. For Umar threatened the people with stoning, and considering his fabled severity and harsh temper, no one would have dared to speak against him. If Ali had been able to protest against Umar, he would not have remained silent. But because of the circumstances he had no choice but to have patience and to bide his time. The case of Mut'a is similar. For it was Ali himself who said: "If Umar had not prohibited Mut'a, no one would commit fornication except the wretched!" (Sunni commentaries of Quran by Tabari, Tha'labi, Qurtubi, Fakhr al-Razi, Suyuti, Ibn Hayyan, Nishaboori, and Jassas. As for Shia, see al-Mut'a, by al-Dizfuli, pp 68-69).
The Shia scholars also point out that without question stoning as a punishment for having performed Mut'a could not be permissible, even if we were to accept that Mut'a is forbidden. For stoning can only be a punishment when a married man has committed fornication with a woman. Hence Umar had no right for laying down this edict. (Jawahir, v5 p161, al-Bayan, p229).
Fakhr al-Razi answers this line of reasoning by saying that perhaps Umar only mentioned stoning to intimidate his listeners and make them think more seriously about the consequences of temporary marriage. (al-Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v3, p287).
Concerning Umar's two sayings banning Mut'a, the Shia argue as follows: If his prohibition was based on "independent judgment" (Ijtihad), then it is baseless, since all scholars agree that independent judgment can never gain or contradict the saying of the Quran or the traditions. (Sharh al-Lum'a, v5, p182-183; Jawahir, v5, p161; al-Bayan, p229).
As for the Quranic basis of Mut'a, we have already seen that as far as the Shia and certain individual Sunnis are concerned, the Quran permits it in the chapter of Women. As for its basis in the prophetic Hadith, many traditions have been related in the standard Sunni collections which proves the permissibility of Mut'a of women at the time of the Prophet.
Concerning Umar's "independent judgment", one of the contemporary Shia scholars argues as follows: Umar may have made his judgment completely on his own initiative and in direct contradiction to the words of the Prophet; or he may have based his judgment on a prohibition issued by the Prophet himself. If the first case is true, then Umar's judgment is groundless, as noted above. And the second case cannot be true, since a number of the companions have given witness to the fact that Mut'a was permitted during the lifetime of the Prophet and up until the time of his demise. (al-Bayan, p229).
In general the Shia argue that if Umar's prohibition had been based upon the words of the Prophet, then other Companions would have known about it. How is it possible for the Prophet to have forbidden Mut'a, yet, during the rest of his life, the period of Abu Bakr's caliphate and the beginning of Umar's caliphate, for prohibition to have remained unknown to everyone but Umar? Moreover, if his prohibition were based upon the words of the Prophet, why did he not attribute it to the Prophet instead of to himself?
Fakhr al-Razi answers that it might be that beside Umar, some other Companions had heard the prohibition from the Prophet, but they forgot it later. But when Umar mentioned the prohibition in a large gathering, everyone knew he was speaking the truth, so they remained silent.
The Shia reply to the argument of Fakhr al-Razi as follows: It is impossible to imagine that all of the Companions other than Umar had forgotten that Mut'a had been forbidden, considering its everyday importance. People need legitimate sexual relationships almost as much as they need food and water. They could not have forgotten when they continued practicing Mut'a after the demise of the Prophet till the time of Umar's rule.
The Shia authors also point out that Umar banned the two kinds of Mut'a together, whereas everyone, Sunnis and Shia agree that the Mut'a of al-Hajj is permissible. Hence the Mut'a pertaining to women should also be permissible. (Majma' al-Bayan, v3, p33).
Debate on the Controversial Reports
In the Sunni sources few traditions have been attributed the Prophet showing that he banned Mut'a during his lifetime. In most of the Sunni "sound" collections (Sihah), it is related from Ali that he said: "Verily the Prophet of God banned the Mut'a of temporary marriage and the eating of the meat of domesticated asses on the day of Khaibar."
Ibn Sabra relates from his father the following: I came upon the Prophet of God who was leaning against the Ka'ba. He said: "O People! I commanded you to seek enjoyment (Istimta'a) from these women, but now God has forbidden that to you until the Day of Resurrection. So if you have a temporary wife, let her go her way; and do not take back anything of what you have given her."
Another Hadith is related from Salama Ibn al-Akwa'. Through his father he reported that the Prophet of God permitted Mut'a in the year of Autas (8/629) for three days; but then he prohibited it.
Shia do not consider these three traditions of any authority. To illustrate how they reject them, we can summarize the arguments of al-Khoei. The Hadith attributed to Ali cannot be authentic, since all Muslims agree that Mut'a was permitted in the year Mecca was conquered. So how could Ali have claimed that Mut'a was banned on the Day of Khaibar (close to two years before Mecca's conquest)?! Because of this obvious discrepancy, some of the great Sunni authorities have maintained that the words "on the day of Khaibar" probably refer only to the meat of domestic asses. But this is absurd, for two reasons: First, it is counter to the rules of Arabic grammar: if the phrase referred only to asses, the verb would have to be repeated. Thus, in Arabic one says: "I honored Zaid and Amr on Friday", or one says: "I honored Zaid and I honored Amr on Friday", thus making it clear that "on Friday" refers only to Amr. If the adverbial phrase referred only to the meat, the text of the Hadith would have to read: "Verily the Prophet of God banned Mut'a, and he banned the eating of the meat of domesticated asses on the Day of Khaibar." In short, since everyone agrees that Mut'a was permitted when Mecca was conquered, the Prophet cannot have banned it three years before that. Hence the Hadith is not authentic. (al-Bayan, pp 222-224).
The second reason that the "Day of Khaibar" cannot refer only to the meat of domesticated asses is that this clearly conflicts with Hadith related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (three of the authoritative Sunni collections). For their versions of Ali's Hadith is as follows: "The Prophet banned the Mut'a of marriage on the Day of Khaibar, as well as the meat of domesticated asses."
As for the tradition related by Ibn Sabra from his father, al-Khoei points out that although his Hadith has been related by many chains of authority, they ALL go back to Ibn Sabra himself, and thus the Hadith is of the type known as Wahid, i.e., it derives from a single companion. And a Quranic verse cannot be abrogated even by the most authentic kind of Hadith, and thus by far, it can not be abrogated by a relatively weak one. Moreover the very content of the Hadith shows that it is not correct. It is hardly conceivable that the Prophet could have stood before the Ka'ba in front of a large group of Muslims and ban something until the Day of Resurrection, and that then only one person Sabra should have heard him or related his words.
Where were those Companions who recorded even the gestures and the glances of the Prophet? Certainly they should have joined Sabra in reporting the prohibition of Mut'a until the Day of Resurrection. And where was Umar himself? He certainly should have known about the prohibition so that it would not have been necessary to attribute the banning of Mut'a to himself. Finally, there are discrepancies in the various versions of the Hadith of Sabra. In some versions the prohibition is said to have occurred in the year of the victory of Mecca (8/630), in others in the year of the Farewell Pilgrimage (10/632). This discrepancy makes the Hadith even more untrustworthy.
Shahid al-Thani points out another problem concerning the Hadith of Ibn Sabra. He mentioned Ibn Sabra himself is the only source for his father's words, but no one knows anything about him. He is not mentioned in any of the books on Hadith as a transmitter, nor has any other Hadith been related from him. For this reason al-Bukhari the most famous Sunni authority, and generally considered the most reliable for the Sunnis, left the Hadith of Ibn Sabra out of his collection. (Sharh al-Lum'a, v5, pp 264-282).
As for the Hadith of Salama Ibn al-Akwa, al-Khoei remarks that again it is a saying related from only one Companion (Wahid) and cannot abrogate a Quranic verse. In addition, if it is an authentic Hadith, it is strange that it remained unknown to such important Companions as Ibn Abbas, Ibn Masud, and Jabir Ibn Abdillah. How is it possible for the Hadith to be authentic, while Abu Bakr did not forbid Mut'a during the whole period of his caliphate and Umar only banned it towards the end of his own? (al-Bayan, pp 222-223).
There are many sayings of the Companions which indicate that Mut'a was permitted up until the time of Umar's prohibition. Three of the most famous are those of Ali, Ibn Abbas, and Imran Ibn al-Husain. As we have already seen, Ali said: 'If Umar had not prohibited Mut'a, no one would commit fornication except the wretched.' This is the most famous form of a saying reported in numerous sources and a number of different versions.
The above version is derived from Sunni works; a Shia version is related from the fifth Imam, al-Baqir: "If it were not for that [i.e., Mut'a] with which [Umar] Ibn al-Khattab preceded me, no one would commit fornication except the wretched."
The saying related from Ibn Abbas is reported by the tenth/sixteenth century Sunni scholar al-Suyuti in this form: "God have mercy on Umar! Mut'a was naught but a mercy from God, through which He showed mercy to Muhammad's community. If Umar had not banned it, no one would need fornication except the wretched." (al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti, v2, p141).
More Arguments on the Hadith
The Sunni argument for the prohibition of Mut'a based upon the Hadith can be summarized as follows: The reason that the scholars have differed concerning Mut'a is that it was permitted and then banned a number of times.
Ibn al-Arabi (d. 638/1240), the famous Sufi who wrote on the meaning of the Shari'ah, calls Mut'a one of the most remarkable edicts in Islamic law, since it was permitted at the beginning of Islam, then forbidden at the Battle of Khaibar, then permitted again at the war of Autas. Finally it was forbidden and remained forbidden. No other edict in Islam was changed a number of times with the exception of the Qibla (the direction of prayer), for that was abrogated twice before being finalized.
Al-Qurtubi reports that other authorities who have studied the traditions concerning Mut'a say that its edict was changed seven times. He refers to the traditions in six Sunni collections explaining how the situation of Mut'a was changed.
As for the Hadith of Sabra, which states that the Prophet permitted Mut'a at the Farewell Pilgrimage in the year 10/632, Abu Ja'far al-Tahawi acknowledges that this is not in keeping with the other Hadith. He explains that the Prophet permitted Mut'a at the conquest of Mecca, when the men complained of separation from their wives. They could not have complained of such separation during the Farewell Pilgrimage, since all of the wives were present, and the single men could have taken permanent wives in Mecca. So the special situation that existed during the other journeys and battles was lacking. However, we can explain the situation as follows: Since the Prophet usually permitted Mut'a during journeys away from Medina, in this case also he permitted it; but then he banned it for the final time wanting all the Muslims to know about it, for all of them were present for the Farewell Pilgrimage. There is also the fact that the Meccans were in the habit of practicing Mut'a widely. Thus the Prophet banned Mut'a in Mecca so that they would understand that they could not continue in their former custom.
The Shia answer to the Sunni argument on the basis of Hadith can be summarized as follows: As has been mentioned already, if Mut'a was made forbidden in the last pilgrimage where according to al-Tahawi's argument most of the Muslims were with the Prophet, then how can only Sabra have heard of the saying of the Prophet?! Moreover, the Hadith demonstrating that Mut'a is forbidden are in conflict with those that show it is permitted. They also conflict with Hadith that show that Mut'a continued to be permitted during the times of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, and Umar, up until the time that Umar banned it. The correct course of action is to prefer those Hadith which establish its permissibility, for a number of reasons:
The Hadith indicating the permissibility of Mut'a outnumber those which show that it is banned.
Everyone agrees that the, traditions indicating that Mut'a was permitted at certain times are authentic and have been transmitted in parallel, but this is not the case concerning those which indicate that it was banned. Hence one can speak of a consensus (Ijma') in the sense that all Muslims at one time agreed that Mut'a was permitted, even though afterwards a disagreement arose. In order to choose the right course, we can not base ourselves upon opinion but must hold fast to that which we have certainty. Hence we must conclude that Mut'a is still permitted, as long as we do not have firm knowledge to the contrary.
The traditions which point to the banning of Mut'a are themselves questionable. When we realize that one of the incontestable elements of Shia as established by the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt is the permissibility of Mut'a, then no Hadith related from Ali stating that Mut'a is forbidden can be authentic. Someone who held without question that Mut'a is permissible would not relate a Hadith from the Prophet that it is forbidden. On many occasions Ali censured Umar's banning of Mut'a. His saying: 'If Umar had not banned Mut'a, no one but the wretched would practice fornication' is well-known, and no one has questioned its authenticity.
Reference: Jawahir, v5, pp 162-163.
Those who hold that Mut'a is forbidden have also claimed the consensus of the Community as one of their proofs. They say that after Umar banned Mut'a, all of the Prophet's Companions went along with him with the exception of Ibn Abbas, and perhaps he might have changed his opinion towards the end of his life.
In answer to this claim, the Shia point out that 'consensus' was never established for the banning of Mut'a; and in any case, the very fact that the Shia Imams (the Household of the Prophet) who are the very pillars of Islam, have all agreed that Mut'a is permitted shows that there was in fact no consensus. Moreover, from the first the Shia have agreed on the permissibility of Mut'a, to such an extent that this view has always been singled out as one of the specific features of Shia. Given this fact, to claim consensus is meaningless. In addition, as we have seen above, many of the Prophet's outstanding Companions and their followers held that Mut'a was permitted. Finally, the claim that Ibn Abbas changed his view on Mut'a toward the end of his life has never been substantiated. Even if it were to be proven, one could only claim consensus if we were certain that no one was opposed to the view that Mut'a is forbidden; whereas we know that in fact the number of opponents was quite large. In short, the Shia conclude, there is no real evidence to show that Mut'a is not permitted; and when the Hadith are investigated, the conclusion is likely to be reached that not only is it permitted (Mubaah), it is even recommended (Mustahabb).
The Opinion of the Four Sunni Schools of Law
The four Sunni schools of law agree that temporary marriage is invalid. That which invalidates the contract is the stipulation of a time period. If such a marriage takes place, it must be annulled, and if it is consummated before the annulment takes place, the woman must be paid the "normal dowry".
The Shafi'i school adds that even if the time period stipulated by the contract is the life-time of the husband or the wife, the contract is still invalid, since the contract of marriage requires that its effects continue after death. That is why a spouse may give his or her spouse the ritual purification of the dead before burial (otherwise, the washer of the dead must be of the same sex as the corpse). A marriage contracted with a stipulation that it comes to an end when one of the spouses dies would mean that the effects of the marriage would end at death. So such a stipulation invalidates the contract.
The Hanafis add that if the time period stipulated is so long that as a rule the spouses could not remain alive until it comes to an end (e.g., if the man were to say: "I will marry you until the hour of Resurrection"), then we can no longer call the marriage "temporary". in effect this stipulation means forever. Hence it is not considered as a stipulation of a time-period and the contract is sound. If the husband's intention in contracting the marriage is to enjoy the woman's company only for a period of time, but he does not make such a stipulation in the contract, the marriage is correct. In the same way, if a person should marry making it a condition of the contract that a divorce will take place after a certain period of time, the contract is correct but the condition is nullified, since such a condition can not limit the contract.
Reference: Fiqh Ala al-Madhahib al-Arba'a, v4, pp 90-94
In any case the four Sunni sects agree that the punishment for a person who enters into a temporary marriage is not the same as that of the fornication. In the latter case the punishment (Hadd) is 100 lashes for each party in the case of an unmarried woman, and stoning to death in the case of a married woman. But the punishment for Mut'a is defined as Ta'zeer, i.e., less than the full punishment for fornication, depending on circumstances and the opinion of the judge. The penalty for fornication is not specified by the Sunnis because certain doubts remain concerning the status of Mut'a as a result of the traditions of Ibn Abbas.
The Opinion of the Shia School of Law
The Shia have always considered Mut'a to be of special importance and have tried to keep it alive as an institution of Islamic society. The Shia law of Jurisprudence is often referred to as the "Ja'fari school of law", since in reality the sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS), had a golden opportunity of teaching during the clashes between the Umayad and the Abbasid. During that short period when the tyrants of both sides were busy with each other, the Imam was teaching Jurisprudence and theology in classes with as much as 5000 students. Hence it is appropriate to quote a few of his many sayings concerning the Mut'a.
Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS) said: "Mut'a was approved by the text of the Quran and became part of the Sunnah of the Prophet." (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p437).
Imam Ja'far considered the Quranic verse referred to above (4:24) the basis for Mut'a. He said: "The verse proves the permissibility of Mut'a." (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p439).
Once Abu Hanifa, the founder of one of the four Sunni sects (who was a student of the Imam Ja'far before he starts his business), asked the Imam about Mut'a. He replied: "Which of the two Mut'a do you mean?" Abu Hanifa answered: "I have already asked you about the Mut'a of the Hajj. So tell me about the Mut'a of marriage." The Imam said, "Glory be to God! Have you not read the Quran? 'So those of them whom you enjoy, give to them their appointed wages' (4:24)." (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p437).
Someone asked Imam Ja'far (AS): "Why is it that four witnesses are necessary [for proof to be established] in cases of adultery, but two are sufficient in the case of murder?" He replied: "God made Mut'a permissible for you, but He knew that you would not approve of it. So He made the witnesses to number four as a protection for you. If it were not for that, it would be brought against you [that you are committing fornication, whereas you are in fact practicing Mut'a]. But seldom do four witnesses come together on a single matter." (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p439).
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).
The Imam Ja'far said: "I do not like a man to leave this world without having married temporarily, even if only on one occasion." (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p444).
The Imam Ja'far said: "It is reprehensible in my eyes that a man dies while there yet remains a practice of the Messenger of God that he has not adopted." He was asked: "And did the Messenger of God practice Mut'a ?" He replied: "Yes." Then he recited the Quranic verse: "And when the Prophet confided to one of his wives a certain matter...(66:3-5)" (Wasa'il al-Shia, v14, p442).
Note how beautiful the Imam explains the reason why one should uphold the practice of Mut'a. The encouragement, promotion, and rewards for the Mut'a are not for the physical/sexual action, but are rather due to REVIVING the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) which has been forsaken by the majority of Muslims. If Umar would not have abolished this Sunnah of the Prophet, such reward would not have been attached to the Mut'a.
The Shia call Abu Ja'far Muhammad al-Tusi (d. 460/1068) the "Elder of the Denomination" (Shaikh al-Ta'ifa), since he was the first who organized a systematic methodology for demonstrative jurisprudence (al-Fiqh al-Istidlali). We can conclude this discussion with a summary of his views on Mut'a. He writes that the Shia reasons for considering Mut'a permissible are as follows:
The Consensus of the Twelver Shi'ites.
The words of the Quran : "Marry such women as seen good to you! (4:3)," since Mut'a is a kind of marriage, but one which men desire to perform by expending their property.
The words of the Quran: "So those of them whom you enjoy, give to them their appointed wages (4:24)." The word Istimta'a (enjoy), unless otherwise qualified, signifies temporary marriage.
Ibn Masud's version of the Quran, which adds the words "to an appointed time" to the above verse.
There is no disagreement over the fact that Mut'a was allowed at the beginning of Islam. So those who claim that the verse was abrogated must prove their assertion.
The principle from which discussion must begin is that Mut'a is permitted. That it should be forbidden should be proven.
The words of Umar concerning the two types of Mut'a. Here Umar tells us that at the time of the Prophet, Mut'a was permitted, i.e., that it was a part of the religion of Islam. Proof must be provided that it is no longer so.
Reference: al-Khilaf, v2, pp 179-180
After referring to the above reasons, al-Tusi answers the arguments of those who claim Mut'a is forbidden in much the same way that we have seen above.
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