What is Muta’h? Is Muta’h allowed in Islam?

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Narrations about Mut’h in Sahih al Bukhari

Narrations about Mut’h in Sahih Muslim

Article by Dr. Taijani Samavi

It means the mut’ah marirage (nikāh), or unpermanent marriage, or temporary marriage to a determined term. It is like the perpetual marriage, as can never be valid but only through a marriage contract including a consent and corresponding acceptance, when recited by the bride employing the words: I have married myself to you (zawwajtuka nafsi), with so and so dower, and for so and so period. Thereat the man says: qabiltu (I have accepted).

For this kind of marriage certain conditions are stated in the fiqhi books of the Imāmiyyah, such as determining the dower (mahr) and period. It will be valid with any condition agreed by both parties, and like the prohibition of concluding a marriage contract (temporarily) with female relations (al-muharramāt), due to consanguinity, as in the case of the permanent marriage.

The temporarily married woman should, after expiry of the term (ajal), undergo ‘iddah (waiting without concluding another marriage contract) for two menstrual courses, and in case of the death of her husband for four months and ten days.

There is neither inheritance nor maintenance (nafaqah) between the couple married temporarily, that is neither of them can inherit the other side after death. But the child born due to temporary marriage has the same rights granted to the child born due to permanent marriage, in regard of inheritance and maintenance (nafaqah), beside all other breeding and material rights, and should be acknowledged as the legal child of his father.

This is mut’ah with all its conditions and limits, which can certainly never be like fornication, as claimed by some people.

The Sunnis, like their brethren the Shi’ah, unanimously concur on that the legitimacy of such a marriage being prescribed by Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, in the verse 24 of Surat al-Nisā’: “… And as such of them ye had mut’ah with them, give them their dowries as a fixed reward; and it shall not be a sin on you, in whatever ye mutually agree (to vary) after the fixed reward; Verily God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” They also concur that the Messenger of Allah (S) has permitted this kind of marriage, and the Sahābah exercised it during his lifetime.

But they (the Shi’ah and Sunnah) differ regarding its being abrogated or not. Ahl al-Sunnah believe in its being abrogated and forbidden after it was halāl (lawful), and that the abrogation was made by the (Prophetic) Sunnah not by the Qur’ān. Whereas the Shi’ah believe in its being not abrogated, and its being lawful till the Day of Resurrection.

Hence, the dispute concerns only whether it was abrogated or not, and to review the beliefs of the two sects so as to elucidate to the dear reader where the truth lies, for being followed without any fanaticism and prejudice.

Regarding the Shi’ah believing in its not being abrogated, and its being halāl till the Day of Resurrection, their proof being: It is never confirmed for us that the Messenger of Allah (S) has ever forbidden it (mut’ah), and our Imams from the Pure Kindred (‘itrah) believe in its being lawful (halāl). Had there been any abrogation issued from the Messenger of Allah (S), the first to know it would have been the Ahl al-Bayt Imams headed by al-‘Imām ‘Ali (‘a), as Ahl al-Bayt (household) are better aware of what is there inside it (the house). But that which is established for us being that it is the 2nd Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb who has forbidden it and considered it unlawful (harām), through exerting his own opinion as testified by the Sunni ‘ulamā’ themselves. But we can never leave the ahkām (rules) of Allah and His Messenger to be ordained by the opinion and ijtihād of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb! This was altogether the belief held by the Shi’ah regarding the lawfulness of mut’ah, which is verily an apposite belief and a sober opinion, since all Muslims are required to follow and adhere to the precepts of Allah and His Messenger, refusing everyone other than them whatever high his position be, when his ijtihād being contradictory to the Qur’ānic or Prophetic texts.

Whereas Ahl al-Sunnah believe that the mut’ah was lawful, a verse was revealed in its regard, and the Messenger of Allah (S) permitted people to prarctise it, and it was exercised by the Companions, but it was abrogated afterwards. But they differ concerning who has abrogated it, some saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) has forbidden it before his death. And some other hold that it was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb who forbade it, claiming that his words being hujjah (authority) in their view, due to the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (S):

“Adhere to my sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided successors after me. Hold on to it and cling on it stubbornly.”

Concerning those believing in its being unlawful due to its being prohibited by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, and that his act being a binding sunnah, we have nothing to do with them, nor any debate, since their belief is a mere bigotry and affectation. Otherwise, how is it feasible for any Muslim to abandon and contradict the precepts and sayings of Allah and His Messenger, and adhere to the words of a human being exerting his opinion, liable to err and be correct, in case his ijtihād being about a matter regarding which no text in the Book (Qur’ān) and Sunnah is found. But how would be the case when a text (nass) is revealed (in the Qur’ān): “And it is not for a believer man or woman to have any choice in their affair when God and His Apostle have decided a matter, and whoever disobeyeth God and His Apostle, indeed he hath strayed off a manifest straying.” (33:36)

Whoever disagrees with me regarding this rule (or principle), is asked to reconsider his information in respect of the concepts of the Islamic Law, and study the Holy Qur’ān and the Prophetic Sunnah. Because the Qur’ān itself indicated in the above-mentioned verse, beside many other similar Qur’ānic verses, that whoever not adhering to the Qur’ān and Prophetic Sunnah is verily but a disbeliever and strayed (misled).

Further, many proofs are found in the noble Prophetic Sunnah, of which we suffice with this hadith uttered by the Messenger of Allah (S):

“Whatever deemed halāl (lawful) by Muhammad is halāl (for you) till the Day of Resurrection and his harām is harām (unlawful) till the Day of Resurrection”.

So no one is entitled to deem lawful or unlawful regarding any matter on which a text (nass) and rule is revealed and established by Allah or his Messenger (S).

Due to all that is mentioned, we tell those trying to convince us that the acts and exertions (ijtihādat) of the Rightly-guided Caliphs are binding, i.e. we should follow them, we tell them this verse: “Say thou (unto the people of the Book), Dispute ye with us about God; whereas He is our Lord, and your Lord, and for us are our deeds and for you are your deeds; to Him (alone) we are (exclusively) loyal?” (2:139)

But those believing in this proof agree with the Shi’ah in their claim, and will be verily a hujjah against their brethren from among Ahl al-Sunnah.

Our debate is limited only with those claiming that it is the Messenger of Allah (God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) who has prohibited it (mut’ah), abrogating the Qur’ān by the hadith.

Such people are confused and non-established in their sayings, with their proof being unsubstantial and never established on a firm basis, even though the forbiddance (nahy) from it was reported by Muslim in his Sahih. Because had there been any nahy issued by the Messenger of Allah, it would have never been neglected by the Sahābah who practised mut’ah (temporary marriage) during the era of Abu Bakr and a part of the era of ‘Umar himself, as reported by Muslim in his Sahih.[247]

‘Ata’ said: Jābir ibn ‘Abd Allāh came back from ‘Umrah (short pilgrimage), when we visited him in his house. Then some of us questioned him about several matters, till referring to the mut’ah, where he said: Yes, we practised it during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S) and that of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.

Had the Messenger of Allah (S) forbidden the mut’ah, it would have never been permissible for the Companions to practise it during the reign of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, as mentioned before. The fact is that it was not the Messenger of Allah (S) who forbade or deemed it harām, but the forbiddance was issued by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, as reported in Sahih al-Bukhāri.

— Musaddad said: It is reported by Yahya, from ‘Imran Abu Bakr, from Abu Raja’, from ‘Imran ibn Husayn, that he said: The verse of mut’ah is revealed in the Book of Allah, and we exercised it during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S) with no verse being revealed deeming it unlawful or its being forbidden (by anyone) till he (S) died. Then a man exerted his opinion, ascribing it to Muhammad, who is said to be ‘Umar.[248]

It is made quite clear that the Messenger of Allah (S) has never forbidden it till the end of his life, as expressed by this Companion who ascribed forbiddance to ‘Umar so expressly and with no any obscurity, adding that he exerted his opinion in everything, as he desired.

Also Jābir ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-‘Ansari so explicitly says: We used to consummate temporary marriage (mut’ah) with (only) a handful of dates and flour during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S), and era of Abu Bakr, until it was forbidden by ‘Umar in the case of ‘Amr ibn Hurayth.[249]

No wonder to see some of the Sahābah were of the opinion of ‘Umar, as previously mentioned during our discussion about the Thursday Misfortune, when they agreed with him in his saying: The Messenger of Allah (S) utters obscene language and we suffice with the Book of Allah! So when they supported him in that critical situation, implying that much of defamation against the Messenger, how wouldn’t they agree with him in respect of some of his ijtihādat? The evidence can be seen in this utterance of one of them: I was with Jābir ibn ‘Abd Allāh, when someone entered upon him saying: Ibn ‘Abbās and Ibn al-Zubayr disagreed about the two enjoyments (of hajj and marraige). Thereat Jābir said: We did both of them during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S), till the time of ‘Umar who forbade us, when we stopped practising them both.[250]

Therefore I personally believe that some Companions ascribed prohibition of mut’ah to the Messenger of Allah (S), for the sake of justifying the position of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, and approving of his opinion.

Otherwise, how would the Messenger of Allah (S) forbid what is deemed lawful (halāl) in the Qur’ān, as it is infeasible for us to find any of the Islamic rules that being deemed halāl by Allah, the Glorified, while being forbidden by His Messenger. Such a claim can never be expressed but only by that who being obstinate and fanatic. Even when presuming so for argument’s sake that the Messenger (S) has forbidden it, it was not for al-‘Imām ‘Ali (‘a), the nearest in kinship to the Prophet (S) and the most knowledgeable in the (Islamic) rules, to say:

“Mut’ah is verily a blessing showered from Allah upon His bondmen, and had not been ‘Umar’s forbiddance no one would have committed fornication but the wretched.”[251]

It is to be known that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab himself has never ascribed the prohibition to the Prophet (S), but rather he uttered his widely-known proclamation, so outspokenly:

“Two enjoyments were commonly practised during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S), from which both I forbid and on which I punish: mut’t al-hajj (pilgrimage) and enjoyment (mut’ah) with women.”[252]

The Musnad of al-‘Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal is the best evidence proving the presence of great differences among the Sunnis concerning this issue, as some of them deem it lawful, heeding in this regard to the Messenger’s precepts, while some others deeming it harām (unlawful) following the opinion of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. Al-‘Imām Ahmad is reported to have said:

— Ibn ‘Abbās said: The Prophet (S) practised the Mut’ah (temporary marriage) once, when ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr said: Mut’ah is forbidden by Abu Bakr and ‘Umar! Thereat Ibn ‘Abbās said: What is that uttered by ‘Uryah? (belittlement for ‘Urwah)? He said: He says that mut’ah was forbidden by Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Then Ibn ‘Abbās said: I am sure that they shall verily perish, and I say: The Prophet said, while they say: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar forbade.”[253]

Also in Sahih al-Tirmidhi, it is reported that ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar was questioned about the hajj enjoyment. In reply he said: It is halāl. Then the questioner said to him: But your father has forbidden it? He replied: When my father forbids something practised by the Messenger of Allah (S), what do you think me to do better: to follow the order of my father or that of the Messenger of Allah (S)? The man said: Certainly you have to obey the commandment of the Messenger of Allah (S).”[254]

It is known that Ahl al-Sunnah obeyed Umar regarding the mut’ah with women, and disobeyed him regarding mut’ah of pilgrimage, though forbidding from them both was issued by him, altogether in one position, as previously referred to.

The most important point in all this discussion and debate, being that the Ahl al-Bayt Imams and their followers (the Shi’ah) contradicted and negated his (‘Umar’s) claim, considering it (mut’ah) as halāl (lawful) till the Day of Resurrection. This belief (held by the Shi’ah) was pursued also by some Sunni ‘ulamā’, of whom I refer to the eminent Tunisian scholar, the leader of the Zaytunah Mosque al-Shaykh al-Tāhir ibn ‘Ashur (may God’s mercy be upon him). In his famous Tafsir (exegesis) he cited for its (mut’ah) lawfulness the verse: “… and as such of them ye had mut’ah with them (marrying them), give them their dowries as a fixed reward…” [255]

True, such should be the ‘ulamā’, free in their creed, never being influenced by any prejudice or bigotry, and never fearing on the way of Allah the blame of any blamer.

After this brief discussion, no justification or plea is left for Ahl al-Sunnah’s vilification and defamation against the Shi’ah due to their permitting the marriage of mut’ah, beside the fact that the decisive proof and evident argument being on the side of the Shi’ah.

Every Muslim is asked to portray in the mind the words of al-‘Imām ‘Ali (‘a) that: “Mut’ah is verily a blessing showered from Allah upon His bondmen. Actually, is there any blessing greater than such one which quenches a refractory lust that might overwhelm man, male or female, renderring him/her like a beast of prey.

All Muslims in general, and the youth in particular, have to know that Allah, the Glorified, has imposed upon the adulterer the punishment of death through pelting stones (rajm), when perpetrated against the married, males and females. It is not for Allah to forsake His servants with no mercy, while He being the Creator of them and their instincts, having full knowledge of what can ameliorate them. And when Allah, the Beneficent and the Merciful, has showered His mercy upon His bondmen through permitting them to practise mut’ah, so no one would commit adultery thereafter, but only the mischievous, exactly like passing the sentence of amputating the thief’s hand. And in the same way, as long as there being a treasury dedicated exclusively for the destitute and needy people, no one will steal but only the mishievous.

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