Will you give information about Mut'a marriage? Is it permissible?

Details of the Question

Will you give information about Mut'a marriage? Is it permissible?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Mut'a marriage means to marry a woman for a certain time in return for some money/goods. This kind of marriage was permissible in the first days of Islam as it was in the Era of Jahiliyya. Then, it was abrogated and abolished.

Tirmidhi states the following:

"Mut'a marriage existed in the first days of Islam. When a person went to a town, he would marry a woman for a temporary time since he did not know anybody there. She would take care of his possessions and settle his affairs."

There is unanimous agreement that mut'a marriage is haram. All scholars except Rafizis and Shiite accept that it is haram.

Ibn Abbas stated for a long time that mut'a marriage had not been abrogated. Afterwards, he accepted that it had been abrogated and declared it. Once, a disagreement occurred between Ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn Abbas about mut'a marriage. Ibn al-Zubayr said about Ibn Abbas in an implying way, "What happened to some people? Their hearts have become blind like some people who are blind. They say the Messenger of Allah regarded mut'a marriage permissible."

It is understood from here that Ibn Abbas was unaware that muta marriage had been rendered haram. When he found out about it, he changed his view. As a matter of fact, the following was reported from Said bin Jubayr: "Once, Ibn Abbas delivered a sermon and said, ‘Mut'a marriage is like carrion, blood and pork.’" (al-Fiqh alal-Madhahib al-Arba'a VI. 90-93)

(Halil GÜNENÇ, Günümüz Meselelerine Fetvalar, II / 122)


Mut’a means something one benefits from, combining umra and hajj, things like clothes and headscarves given to a woman who divorced and marrying a woman temporarily. Its plural form is "mutaun". The word mata derived from the same root means making use of something useful like food and clothes. Its plural form is "amtia". "Tamattu" and "istimta" mean to make use of something for a long time, to find something delicious and to take pleasure. Mata and mut’a are synonymous words in the sense of something that is benefitted from.

As a fiqh term, mut`a has two meanings: Something given to a woman who divorced to use during the period of iddah; temporary marriage.

1. If a marriage that is made without determining an amount of mahr ends before a sexual intercourse through divorce or cancellation, the woman is given things like clothes and headscarves. They are a kind of “consolation gifts” replacing mahr. 

The following is stated in the Quran:

"There is no blame on you if ye divorce women before consummation or the fixation of their dower; but bestow on them (a suitable gift), the wealthy according to his means, and the poor according to his means;- A gift of a reasonable amount is due from those who wish to do the right thing" (al-Baqara, 2/236);

"For divorced women Maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale)" (al-Baqara, 2/241);

"O ye who believe! When ye marry believing women, and then divorce them before ye have touched them, no period of ´Iddat have ye to count in respect of them: so give them a present. And set them free in a handsome manner" (al-Ahzab, 33/49).

The verbs "mataa" or "amtaa" in those verses mean to enable somebody to benefit from something and to give mut`a to the women who were divorced. (Raghib al-Isfahani, al-Mufradat, p. 461)

2. It is used in the sense of mut`a marriage. In that sense, mut`a means to make a deal with a woman who has no drawback to marriage for a certain period of time in return for a certain amount of money/goods to benefit from her sexually.

This type of marriage was allowed in the first years of Islam due to obligation but it was abrogated and prohibited forever afterwards; and the marriage contracts with a certain time period were rendered invalid. For, purposes of marriage cannot be obtained from such a marriage contract. (Muhammad Ali as-Sabuni, Tafsiru Ayatil-Ahkam, I, 457)

There is also muwaqqat (temporary) marriage in the sense of mut`a marriage. This is also an invalid marriage. The difference between them is almost no more than using different words. For instance, in muwaqqat marriage, the words marriage and marry are used along with time period; in mut`a marriage, the words tamattu, or istimta`, that is, the words meaning "benefitting from sexual aspects of the woman" are used. On the other hand, witnesses and time limit are not necessary in mut`a marriage but they are necessary in muwaqqat marriage. (Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, Istanbul 1984, III, 51, ff)

There is no clear verse determining the principles of mut`a marriage in the Quran. The only verse that can be connected with the issue is the following verse:

"Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise." (an-Nisa, 4/24).

The word “ujur (plural of ujrah)” in the verse is regarded as mahr (dower). There is a similarity between this and the other verses mentioning mahr.

"And how could ye take it when ye have gone in unto each other, and they have Taken from you a solemn covenant" (an-Nisa, 4/21),

"And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer." (an-Nisa, 4/4).

"It is not lawful for you, (Men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives)" (al-Baqara, 2/229).

It is claimed that the general meaning of the first verse above includes mut`a marriage too. There is no doubt that such marriage was legitimate in the first years of Islam. However, it was abrogated afterwards. Imam Shafii and a group of scholars state that mut`a was rendered permissible first and abrogated afterwards and that it was rendered permissible again and abrogated again; that is, it was repeated twice. Some other scholars say it was rendered permissible and abrogated more than twice while some scholars say it was rendered permissible and abrogated only once and that it was not rendered permissible after that. (Ibn Kathir, Tafsirul-Qur`anil-Azim, Istanbul 1985, II, 225)

The word "istamta`tum (you benefitted/made use of)" was translated as "dakhaltum (you had sexual intercourse)". Shiite translate this word as mut`a marriage.

Ibn Abbas and a group of Companions say mut`a was rendered permissible due to obligation. On the other hand, it is reported that Ibn Abbas, Ubayy b. Ka`b, Said b. Jubayr and as-Suddi read the verse of mut`a with the addition of "to a certain period of time": …seeing that ye derive benefit from them to a certain period of time, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed…" (an-Nisa, 4/24)

Islamic fiqh scholars agree unanimously that mut`a marriage is haram. Only Shiite oppose the view of the majority of the scholars. The views of the Shiite regarding the issue are rejected because they are contrary to the Book, Sunnah and consensus (ijma):

1) Shiite use the following verse as evidence for mut`a: "…Seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers…" However, this verse mentions that a woman deserves to get mahr (dower) after having a legitimate marriage and after sexual intercourse. The previous sentence before it is as follows: "Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, - desiring chastity, not lust". In this statement, fornication is expressed with the word lust (sifah).  Sifah or musafaha means to marry in order to have sexual intercourse and to take pleasure only, not in order to establish a family and have children. Since it is prohibited, muwaqqat marriage or mut`a marriage is included in the scope of this prohibition.

2) Another verse Shiite base their view on is as follows: "but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it)," (an-Nisa, 4/24). According to them, what is meant by this verse is after the time period determined in the mut`a contract, lengthening the time by increasing the dower by the man and the time by the woman.

However, this verse states that there is no drawback to giving more or less than the amount after mahr is determined if both parties agree. (al-Alusi, Ruhul-Maani, Cairo nd, V, 5; Fakhruddin ar-Razi, at-Tafsirul-Kabir, np and nd, X, 45, 46; Elmalılı, Hak Dini Kur`an Dili, Istanbul 1936, II, 1327-1329)

As we have mentioned before, mut`a was permissible in the first periods of Islam. The following hadith reported by Tirmidhi expresses it clearly; however, he states afterwards that this decree of permissibility was abrogated: Ibn Abbas stated the following: "Mut'a marriage existed in the first days of Islam. When a person went to a town, he would marry a woman for a temporary time since he did not know anybody there. She would take care of his possessions and serve him during the period he stayed there. Thereupon, the following verse was sent down: "Who abstain from sex, Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame" (al-Mu`minun, 23/5, 6). Ibn Abbas stated the following when this verse was sent down: "All of the marriages except these two were rendered haram." (Tirmidhi, Nikah, 29. H. No: 1122, III, 430)

With the verse above, two legitimate ways for marriage were determined and the other ways were prohibited. Mut`a marriage is a way outside those two ways. (al-Jassas, Ahkamul-Quran, Cairo, nd, III, 99)

Mut`a cannot be accepted as a marriage. Marriage and mut`a cannot be used interchangeably in language and as a fiqh term. It is possible to determine the differences between those two terms as follows:

1) Marriage contract has certain properties; marriage is not valid without them. For instance, when time period ends, this marriage contract is not affected. When the time period that is determined ends in mut’a, mut’a ends spontaneously without needing divorce.

2) In marriage contract, if the spouses divorce after sexual intercourse, the woman has to observe iddah. If the husband dies, iddah is necessary whether sexual intercourse takes place or not. (see al-Baqara, 2/228, 234) In mut`a, the death of the man does not necessitate iddah. The woman waits for one menstruation period to pass to determine whether she is pregnant or not. (see Ibn Kathir, ibid, II, 226; "Istibra" item)

3) A sound marriage contract gives rise to the right of inheritance. (see an-Nisa, 4/12) Inheritance is not in question in mut`a.

4) Marriage contract does not end unless something like death, divorce or exiting the religion occurs. Mut`a marriage ends spontaneously when its time period ends.

Those differences between marriage and mut`a show that mut`a does not have the qualities of marriage. Since it is certain that mut`a does not have the qualities of marriage or having female slaves, the following verse needs to be applied about it:

"But those whose desires exceed those limits (the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess) are transgressors" (al-Mu`minun, 23/7; for details, see al-Jassas, ibid, III, 98 ff)

The evidence from the Sunnah stating that Mut`a is prohibited:

It is not certain when exactly mut`a was prohibited. It is stated in the narration in Bukhari that it was prohibited on the Day of Khaybar (Bukhari, Nikah, 7/16), in the narration in Muslim during the conquest of Makkah (Muslim, Nikah, 22), in another narration in Muslim in the Battle of Awtas, which was a part of the battle of Hunayn (Muslim, Nikah, 3, H.18), in the hadiths in the Sunans of Ibn Majah and Abu Dawud during Farewell Hajj (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44; Abu Dawud, Nikah, 14, H.No: 2072).

The following is reported from Hz. Ali:

"The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited mut`a marriage and eating the flesh of domestic donkeys on the Day of Khaybar." (Bukhari, Nikah, 31; Muslim, Nikah, 29-32; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44)

A hadith reported from Samra b. Ma`bad al-Juhani through various ways state that mut`a was prohibited forever. Salama, who took part in the conquest of Makkah with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), made a mut`a contract with a female slave upon the permission of the Messenger of Allah, lived with her for one or three days. He said that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stood between Hajar al-Aswad and the gate of the Kaaba in the morning and stated the following:

"O people’ I allowed you to make mut`a contracts with women. Allah definitely rendered it haram forever.  He who has any such woman with whom should let her off. Do not take back anything you gave to them." (Muslim, Nikah, 19, 22, 24; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44; Darimi, Nikah, 16; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, III, 406).

It is stated in some narrations that this prohibition took place during Farewell Hajj. (see Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44, H. No: 1962)

Those contradictions about the hadiths stating when mut`a was prohibited were eliminated by hadith scholars who said mut`a was rendered haram and then permissible a few times. According to Imam Nawawi, the prohibition and permission of mut`a took place twice. He states the following: "It was permissible before Khaybar and it was prohibited in Khaybar. It was rendered permissible during the conquest of Makkah. The Incident of Awtas took place after the Conquest of Makkah. Muta was rendered haram forever three days later." (an-Nawawi, Sharhu Sahihil-Muslim, IX, 193, Alusi, ibid, V, 5, 6)

The practices of the Companions on Mut`a:

During the caliphate of Hz. Umar bin Khattab, some hesitations occurred on the decree of mut’a. Hz. Umar declared that mut’a marriage was haram and no Companion opposed him. He stated the following in the speech he made on the day he was chosen as the caliph:

'The Messenger of Allah permitted mut’a marriage for us three times; then, he forbade it. By Allah, if I hear of any married person entering a muta marriage, I will stone him to death unless he can bring me four witnesses who will testify that the Messenger of Allah allowed it after he forbade it." (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44, H.No: 1963)

According to Hz. Ali, mut`a was prohibited by the Prophet (pbuh) on the Day of Khaybar. (see Bukhari, Nikah 29-32)

The view of Ibn Abbas on mut`a:

Those who say that mut`a was not abrogated try to base this view on Ibn Abbas. The Shiite pronunciation of the verse 24 of the chapter of an-Nisa with the addition of "ila ajalin musamma (to a determined time)" based on the qira’ah of Ibn Mas`ud and Ubayy b. Ka`b is a shaz qira’ah. It is reported that Ibn Abbas also adopted this qira’ah. Therefore, it is claimed that Ibn Abbas pronounced the verse "…seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed…" (an-Nisa, 4/24) with the addition of "to a determined time" and it is interpreted that he regarded mut`a permissible. Some people say Ibn Abbas regarded mut`a permissible only while travelling in cases of obligation. (al-Jassas, ibid, III, 95; Alusi, ibid, V, 5, 6).

Said b. Jubayr read a couplet to Ibn Abbas saying; "Your fatwa became widespread; poets uttered poems on it." Ibn Abbas was astonished when he heard it and said, “By Allah, I did not issue a fatwa like that. Mut`a is like carrion, blood and pork. Therefore, it becomes permissible only when there is an obligation." (Alusi, ibid, V, 6; al-Jassas, ibid, III, 95)

Ata reports the following from Ibn Abbas: "May Allah show mercy on Umar! Mut`a, is nothing but a mercy of Allah for the ummah of Muhammad. If Umar had not prohibited it, very few people would have committed fornication." (al-Jassas, ibid, III, 96). According to what Abdullah b. Wahb reports, a man came to Ibn Abbas and said, "When I was on an expedition with my female slave and my friends, I rendered my female slave permissible for my friends and they made use (yastamtiuna) of her." Thereupon, Ibn Abbas said, "This is clear fornication (sifah)." (al-Jassas, ibid, III, 96, 97)

It is possible to evaluate the conclusion of those views reported from Ibn Abbas as follows:

1) In some narrations, Ibn Abbas regards mut’a permissible without expressing the conditions of travelling and obligation.

2) He mentions the permissibility of mut’a in cases of obligation like eating carrion and pig in cases of obligation.

3) He holds the view that mut`a marriage was abrogated. We can answer them as follows:

It is not an evidence for Ibn Abbas to regard mut’a permissible by interpreting verse 24 of the chapter of an-Nisa. For, as it is explained above, there is no indication about the permissibility of mut`a in the verse. On the contrary, the verse includes the prohibition of mut`a.

It is not an appropriate analogy for him to liken mut`a to carrion and pork and to regard it permissible when there is an obligation. For, the obligation that renders harams halal cannot be in question in mut`a. Carrion and pork becomes permissible due to obligation lest one should die. However, a person will not die or none of his organs will be destroyed if he does not have a sexual intercourse. On the other hand, the Messenger of Allah advised the single people who could not afford to marry to fast. There may be an apprehension in the narration that regards mut`a permissible in case of obligation. For, it cannot be thought that a person like Ibn Abbas did not understand the issue.

In conclusion, the soundest narration regarding the issue reported from Ibn Abbas is the narration of Tirmidhi stating that he regards mut`a marriage haram and that he gave up his previous view. This is the preferable view. (For details, see al-Jassas, ibid, III, 99, 97 ff; Alusi, ibid, V, 5 ff; Ibn Kathir, ibid, III, 226; Fakhruddin ar-Razi, at-Tafsirul-Kabir, X, 48 ff; Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, Istanbul 1984, III, 51 ff; Elmalılı, Hak Dini Kur`an Dili, İstanbul 1936, II, 1327-1329, IV, 3429, 3430)


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