AN INTRODUCTION TO TEMPORARY MARRIAGES AMONGST MUSLIMS
Temporary marriages -do such things exist? We know that a Muslim man can have a maximum of four wives through proper wedding. Are you aware that in addition he can have many, many temporary marriages too? This happens in many countries, if not in India.
There has been too much of Islamic news around us, of late. Afzal Guru’s execution has tested the patriotic sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims. Yasin Malik protests against India on a foreign soil and gets a pat (a glass of juice) from the Pak terrorist Hafeez Sayeed who masterminded 26/11 (Mumbai killings). Some rumours thus get strengthened that Congress is getting funds from ISI of Pakistan. The mutual Muslim killings in Mali and the mutual Muslim killings in Syria are the stuff of main foreign news every day! Treachery, violence, bloodshed are the staple food that is thus being churned out for the news hungry. I 'hate' to add one more Islamic subject for your reading benefit through this blog! But the 'hate' will pass and is passing! There are no chains to bind down knowledge! I just want to educate the readers who are unaware of the subject. I don’t mean to pass any value judgment.
Have you heard of Muta? Muta, in Arabic, means pleasure. Muta (short for “Nikah Mutah”) is a term used for “temporary marriages” practiced by the Shia Muslims of the world. Iran is a prominent Shia country. The Muta practice in Iran has been centuries old and has the strong support of President Ahmedinejad and the Persian clerics. The Sunnis of the world deride the Muta marriages and call them “legalized prostitution”. In a Muta marriage, a man and woman have to decide beforehand the duration of the marriage and the amount of the dowry (mahr) to be paid by the man to the woman. The Muta marriage can be for any duration - one hour, two hours, one night, a week, a month, a year or several years, you name it! The taint of prostitution and the sin/crime of adultery are circumvented by this.
The Shias believe that the Prophet Mohammad has clearly allowed temporary marriages through the Koran (verse 4.24). Indeed, during the lifetime of the Prophet, “temporary marriages” were in practice for a number of reasons. After the passing away of the Prophet, during the Islamic leadership of Abu Bakr and Umar (the second Caliph) too, the practice continued, but all of a sudden Umar abolished it, stating that it was un-Islamic and bad for the Society. Umar had stolen the caliphate from the hands of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet. Thus, Umar’s followers who are the Sunnis denounce the practice of temporary marriage whereas the Shias, who are Ali’s followers, regard Muta as sanctioned by Koran.
In Iran the Arabic word Muta is not commonly used and the Persian word “sighe” is used to denote temporary marriage. Such marriages are particularly beneficial for poor widows who need money, poor men who want bodily pleasure for a while without long commitment, tormented husbands whose wives could be difficult etc. In a case, a man of 25 years with money to afford can enter into a marriage for 2 months with a beautiful 40 year old widow on the understanding that she will go on a long foreign pleasure trip with him the expenses for which are the dowry money. Many Iranian men, in their life time, have, apart from one to four permanent wives, several dozens of temporary marriages which are done in secret without the knowledge of the permanent wives.
The Iranian clerics look at temporary marriage from the stand-point of facilitating youngsters who need sex as it is un-islamic (non halal) to have sex without marriage. Youngsters are not allowed to “date” in the Western fashion and live-in partnerships are taboo. The Muta can be done even orally by the woman saying, for example, “I will marry you for six months provided you pay me in advance the mahr of 10 gold pieces” and the man responding with “I accept it”. However, to avoid trouble from the police, or to prevent a woman from getting cheated in any way, the couple is advised to go to a registry and get a temporary marriage certificate.
If a child is born during a temporary marriage, the child’s expenses and maintenance (on a long term) becomes the man’s responsibility. In such marriages, the man has a right to sex only and cannot order his wife around. At the end of the committed/contracted period, there is no talaq or divorce, and the two only separate and go their own ways. But after such separation, the woman cannot get into another temporary marriage with another man till two menstrual cycles (called “iddah”) are over. This is meant to establish clarity on paternity, if need be! In a temporary marriage with a prostitute for say one hour, she becomes a wife for that period. One does not know if she really waits for two months before getting her next customer.
The Sunnis have been denouncing Muta as a degraded and un-Islamic practice over 13 centuries and suddenly things have changed! In Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mulla Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz issued a fatwa in 1996 permitting temporary marriage. In Egypt (a sunni country), Imam Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi issued orders in 1999 permitting temporary marriage. The Sunni temporary marriage is called “Misyar” (short for Nikah Misyar which means traveller’s marriage). Incidentally, world Muslim population is nearly 2.1 billion out of the total world population of nearly 7 billion, and the Sunnis constitute nearly 80 percent of the total world Muslim population.
Thus, in Egypt, a young man and a young woman who like each other but don’t have enough means to properly marry (which involves huge expenses) can enter into misyar and have physical relations. They could be staying with their parents. In Muta, man and wife can live under one roof but, in misyar, man and wife generally cannot live under one roof. Unlike in Muta, there is no fixed time limit in misyar. After a few years into misyar, the boy and girl can have a permanent wedding.
Egyptian men going to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the UAE on work assignments are allowed to fulfil their physical needs by entering into misyar. Wealthy Saudis and Kuwaitis need not worry about committing adultery and they can have their women through misyar and take them on foreign trips.
To the Author.
I strongly object the amount of knowledge you possess for writing such a complicated issue of another religion. It indeed shows your ignorance to permit yourself to write about this topic. The information you provided here is totally wrong and can mislead people and change perception of others about the greatest ever religion i.e. ISLAM. To just show one of your ignorance to the reader: Hazrat Umar RA is the 2nd Caliph of ISLAM and Hazrat ALI RA followed him as the fourth Caliph of ISLAM. In between them was Hazrat Usman RA. You need to provide real grounds and real basis for what you write and shouldn’t write it just for the sake of writing about ISLAM.
Please avoid writing about such topics in future or please at least educate yourself and my advice to you is DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING IN YOUR IGNORANCE
Nice to see your comment! Many thanks!!!
Must check if you have been writing here! Might have missed it!
Am very well, thanks, so also my sons!!
Very Interesting.. I never heard of this!! Thanks for sharing this, Gopal ji.. how have you been doing? Hope all is good with you and your sons. :)
Pl read my blog on Amrapali, the beautiful lady at Buddha's time. She was a "nagarvadhu" (adopted by town, to dance, and to please many noble and rich men, and not marry one man since that is a waste of beautiful resources!). That was an old custom!
Gandharva Vivaah: when a man and a woman marry with each other's consent but may not have the consent of their family then this wedding is called Gandharva Vivaah or 'love marriage'.
One of my Iranian colleague mentioned about this a while ago.. His complaint was that of dowry that he will have to give in case he has to choose multiple temporary partners and is looking for a permanent wife.
I am not sure where I read, but apparently in olden days beautiful girls were not allowed to get married. There was a law that stated beautiful girls belonged to the state and to be shared and cannot be a single man's entity! Apparently this happening in India.. I think the one-man one-women logic is a more recent one in our civilization.. may be because of the increase in the greediness of men (or women too?)
Is it in any manner parallel to "Gandharv Vivah" of Hindus? Clever ploys to exploit women.
Sorry, am unable to see connection between this piece and missing girls in India.
Supreme court has asked states to submit list of missing girls and children. Some states are yet to comply with the directive. I am afraid this blog may be useful to justify missing girls irrespective of their religion