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Temporary marriage

By: bayynat editor

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

Following is the view of His Eminence, the late Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra):

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

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

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

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

Asking them to suppress their instincts is neither logical nor practical in an atmosphere full with temptations. Advising them to seek permanent marriage, while they are entirely unable financially to do is nonsense. Hence, what is the solution?

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

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

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

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

b. The man says: I accept.

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

Thirdly, the woman who had full intercourse must finish her Iddat (period in which the woman cannot remarry); in case she wants to marry another person.. Therefore, she is legitimately prohibited to remarry before the termination of Iddat. Whereas, ifshe did not have full intercourse she will not observe an Iddat and she has the right to conclude immediately a marriage contract with another man when the first marriage ends.

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

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

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

If the husband wishes to renew the contract after it is terminated, the Iddat will not be imposed on the wife and she just has to state the verbal form of the contract once again in order to be remarried. When the time of this marriage ends, the woman can not marry right away if she did not have full intercourse .She has to wait for the Idda to end to be sure that she is not pregnant. Therefore, we can say that whatis applied to permanent marriage is also applied to temporary marriage.

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

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

It is allowed to conclude a temporary marriage with a virgin if she is a mature  adult, since she has the right to wed herself without the permission of her guardian, but other considerations should be taken into account - like  the bad reputation the girl might acquire or that she might put herself in a place, where people will gossip about her...

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

Temporary marriage iscompletely legal, and it is temporary because the man &woman determine the time limit of this marital relationship. The woman can also condition that the manmust be her financial supporter during their relationship. Temporary marriage is set according to a contract and a dowry. In case the woman gives birth to a child, he is absolutely legitimate and has all the privileges of any legitimate child.