What is meant by “mut`ah nikah“? What is its history and place in modern age?
“Mut`ah” refers to temporary marriage.
There is some scattered evidence in the books of the history and the cultural traditions of the Arabs that in certain situations, a temporary marital relationship between a man and a woman was considered to be acceptable among the pre-Islamic Arabs. There are certain narratives (hadith) that imply that for sometime, even the Prophet (pbuh) did not prohibit such a relationship. On the other hand, certain other narratives are held as evidence to the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) did not prohibit such a relationship at all, it was prohibited, later on – after the death of the Prophet – by the second caliph, `Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra).
The Qur’an does not support this view. According to the very initial Surahs (chapters) of the Qur’an, like Surah Al-Muminoon and Surah Al-Ma`arij the Qur’an has specifically disallowed all sexual relationships, besides those, which are based on Nikah or those which were between a master and his slave girl1. The Qur’an says:
And those who guard their chastity, except with their wives and their slave girls – for they are not to be blamed. But those who trespass beyond this [limit] are the ones who are transgressors. (Al-Ma`arij 70: 29 – 31)
It must be kept in mind that a Mut`ah relationship makes a woman neither a wife nor a slave girl of a person, whereas the Qur’an specifically restricts sexual relationships of a person with his wife and his slave girls only. It should also be noticed that the particular word used by the Qur’an in the referred verse, which is translated as “wives” is “azwaj” plural of “zaujah“. In the Arabic language, a woman with whom a person enters into a contract of Mut`ah is called the “Mamtu`ah” of the person, she is not referred to as the “zaujah” (wife) of the person. The verse, therefore, is evidence to the fact that no other relationship besides the one based on Nikah was allowed by Islam.
1st April 1998
- It may be clarified that slavery was not a part of the society that Islam developed. On the contrary, slavery was a part of the society, which Islam inherited. Islam, from the very first day, tried to correct the situation in such a way that the institution was abolished, without a negative impact on the society. This was the reason why Islam tried to do away with the institution of slavery over a long period of time. [↩]