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What are temporary marriages and how are they different from permanent ones? Are they still allowed?

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Temporary Marriage

Fixed-Term/Temporary/Pleasure Marriage are different names for the Arabic word of Mut'a which is a contract between a man and woman, much in the same way the Long-Term/Permanent/Conventional Marriage is. The main difference is that the temporary marriage longs only for a specified period of time, and man and woman will become stranger to each other after the expiration date without divorce.

One misconception regarding temporary marriage is that some people think that the woman engaged in temporary marriage can have contract every other hour. This is completely misrepresentation of temporary marriage. After such contract has been expired, the woman has to wait for two months (Iddah) before which she can not marry any one else.

The Disagreement between Sects

The first one who legislated Mut'a with all the rules pertaining to it, was the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), after it was revealed in Quran. All Muslims agree that the Messenger of Allah legislated Mut'a and made it legal after his migration to Medina, and the Muslims practiced it during his lifetime.

However there is a disagreement between the Shia and most of the Sunnis concerning whether the Prophet later banned it or not. Most Sunnis assert that although the Prophet legislated it, he later forbade it. This is while the Shia believe that temporary marriage was never abandoned by the Prophet (PBUH). Allah revealed it in Quran, and it was being widely practiced to the end of his lifetime and during the period of Abu Bakr and the early days of Umar's rule, until Umar forbade it.

In th Quran it is stated :

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. (Surat An-Nisā' 4:24)

This line stated it is allowed (the bold parts especially).
Here So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] actually means temporary marriage or Mutah

Here is another translation of the line:

And all married women except those whom your right hands possess; (this is) Allah's ordinance to you; and lawful for you is (all) besides that - that you seek (them) by means of your wealth taking (them) with chastity, not committing fornication. Then as such of them with whom you have Mutah, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise

There is still a debate between Shias and Sunnis regarding the acceptance of this practice (and im not going into that).

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    I fail to see in your answer where temporary marriage is allowed in the quoted verse. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Jul 3 '12 at 13:35
  • @HasanKhan if you had read the line carefully you should have understood that the whole line points out that temporary marriage is allowed. Anyways i have boldened the important parts. – Ashu Jul 4 '12 at 13:19
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    I still fail to see anything suggesting about temporary marriage. How is the verse not about a normal marriage but a temporary one? – Muhammad Hasan Khan Jul 4 '12 at 14:21
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    i find temporary marriage to be quite useful. it allows me to be a "mahram" with my fiance, instead of having to bear all sorts of restrictions about seeing, touching etc that are associated with a na-mahram. it allows us to fix a time so that we can get to know each other within Islamic boundaries. – Nerrve Jul 26 '12 at 7:12
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(This is this the Shi'a view of Mut'ah marriage)

Temporary marriage is called Mut'ah in Islam. Mutah is from root ma ta a that means enjoying [from a woman]. We know in permanent marriage there is not needed to husband pay wage to his wife for each time he have sex with her (enjoys from her). But Quran has a verse saying when you enjoyed her you should pay her wage. This has conflict with rules of permanent marriage and is a proof for other type of marriage made legal by Quran which as this verse says is called Mut'ah (or temporarily marriage)

All rules of permanent marriage are applied in temporary marriage unless few. For example:

  • a limited time is agreed the
  • child is for mother (at case of separation of parents)
  • the child does not have heir

According to Quran and saying of prophet temporarily marriage is Halal under required terms (that make it different of prostitution)

According to the verse 4:24 of Koran (فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً) temporary marriage is allowed in Islam and the marriage described in this verse can not be usual marriage. this verse says when you did Mut'ah you must pay their dowries.

Mut'ah has terms and is only for some especial situations and is much different of harlotry for example a woman who accept Mut'ah should have relation with only her husband and this type of marriage has many terms of usual marriage with few differences. Also the woman should wait for Iddah period (3 months) to can marry another man after separation. Also shia believes companions of prophet did it when they were in long travels and were alone. shia believes Mut'ah was allowed at time of prophet but Omar banned it because soldiers in wars stayed long in cities on the way for Mutah and Umar made it Haram to soldiers move faster. Also Shia scholars says after this ban harlotry increased too much in Muslim cities.

This is an old copy of Sahih Bukhari talking about Mutah and saying Umar made it Haram:enter image description here

But in later publishes the part containing name of Umar is removed in order to support ban of it by prophet: enter image description here

Mut'ah was Halal and sahaba practiced it and can be seen in hadith books.

Permanent marriage also if abused can be bad for women. It is not problem of Shia or Quran. It’s for abuse of some men.
There are millions of divorced or alone women their husband died and have no opportunity for permanent marriage. What should they do? Stay alone to die?

Prophet never made Mutah Haram and Umar did it.

References and more info:

Temporary Marriage in Islamic Law

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There are rules which are introduced gradually during 23 years of Quran being inspired, so there are some obsolete verses in Quran, but there are verses which state a rule and never come to be obsolete then after, so that the rule will remain a rule for ever after. And the verse about Mut'ah (cited in the answers by other brothers) is not one of those obsolete verses as you can nowhere in Quran find a verse to ban it or even limit it, so what is said about the Prophet (صل الله علیه و آله) forbidding it is either a lie to the Prophet and so to Allah or only a wrong generalization of the prophet's temporal commands e.g. while being in a war (during special situations temporary rules are very common, known as secondary rules, but they are never more than temporary).

Godspeed

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If you ask me this is not a subject Muslims can divide on, because the subject depends directly on the history.

As far as I understand from the hadith collections, mut'ah was first allowed, then later banned by Rasulullah (May Salat and Salam be upon him) himself. Although seems unlikely, it might be the other way around too. We have numerous hadith from legitimate sources in both ways (allowing and banning it). We just need a proper historian to lay out the facts and draw the proper chronology.

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