[Mod: Moved to Religion forum from politics- plus added paragraph breaks to make more readable]
Temporary Marriage in Islam
by Mohammad Gill February 08, 2006 09:40
In addition to mutah, there is another situation of temporary marriage in Islam called “Nikah Halala” which arises when a husband pronounces a triple talaq in quick succession in a fit of rage. This severs the matrimonial bond
There are so many laws in Islam that would turn off any educated person completely. One such law is the Shia custom of Sigeh, or temporary marriage…In a temporary marriage, the man specifies the term of the contract. He asks a woman, or her guardian if she would marry him for any amount of time from ten minutes to an hour, a week, or some months, for a specified amount of money. If her guardian agrees to the terms then they are married and the marriage is annulled when the time has elapsed. (Parvin Darabi)
When (1951-53) I was a student of intermediate Faculty of Science (F.Sc.) at Islamia College, Railway Road, Lahore, our English composition lecturer mentioned one day in his class that Islam allows sexual relationships with a slave girl or slave woman without formal marriage; some of us were stunned to hear this. It seemed absolutely preposterous. Academically the best student in the class (he had stood first in the matriculation examination in the whole province) and generally well-respected, stood up in protest. He proclaimed that if it were true what the lecturer had said, he would readily relinquish his faith in Islam. The lecturer pacified him and suggested he should check independently and verify for himself before he took any drastic action.
Lapse of 1400 years after Islam legitimized free sex with a slave woman had rendered the whole thing so unreal that it was unbelievable. I hadn’t heard of Mutah (temporary marriage) in Islam yet. That shocker would come later.
When it did, curiously I didn’t care much about it because none whom I knew had contracted any temporary marriage. The first time I went to the “Red Light” area with a couple of friends (at their instigation and to prove vaingloriously that I was man enough), it was a mujrah that we watched. I was so much overwhelmed by a sense of shame that for most of the time we were there, I did not raise my eyes to watch the dancing girls. My friends ribbed me later on.
That was water under the bridge and in due time I gained more acquaintance of the people inhabiting the “Heera Mandi.” Then I heard of mutah. I was told that most of the “Heeras” in that market belonged to the Shia Islam because it sanctions a temporary marriage between the consenting men and women. The girls were not Shia because of any fundamental feeling or force of belief; it simply allowed them a sense of “belonging” and some self-esteem (What esteem? They are the dredges of the society.). I filed it in a corner of my memory along with so many other social atrocities of the religion. Last week, I received an e-mail from Mr. Akhtar Sherazi, an Islamic liberal scholar. He together with some other Islamic scholars had presented his views on “Bridging the Sectarian Gap in Islam” in a seminar organized by the Family of the Hearts. In his e-mail, one of the bullets was “Mutah.” Old memories reverberated and I started digging into books and relevant sources striving to comprehend the origination of mutah in sufficient detail. I gathered enough information but did not feel motivated to write on this topic.
A couple of days later, I procured the book “Leaving Islam” by Ibn Warraq. I had read this book selectively before but borrowed it again from the local library to check on a particular biographical profile that I had read earlier but had forgotten some parts of it. Then I read some other profiles. Much of the material was repetitive and largely boring; many of those who had left Islam had done so for almost similar reasons. The title “An Iranian Girlhood and Islamic Barbarism” by Parvin Darabi however drew my attention. The name ‘Darabi’ rang a bell in my mind but I had forgotten all about her. I refreshed my memory by going to the Internet. Her sister, Homa Darabi, had immolated herself protesting against the victimization of women by the Iranian government in the name of religion. After reading Parvin Darabi’s article, I couldn’t resist the urge to write this article.
In addition to mutah, there is another situation of temporary marriage in Islam called “Nikah Halala” which arises when a husband pronounces a triple talaq in quick succession in a fit of rage. The utterance of the triple talaq severs the matrimonial bonds between a husband and his wife and they cannot remarry ‘easily’, if they want to, without help from a third party. The third party comes through halala arrangement. According to Sharia, a divorced woman has to get married with another man after spending the iddah period after her talaq, get divorced from the new husband, wait for iddah, before she can remarry her old husband. I knew of this also before I read Darabi’s article and had filed it away in my memory together with mutah. But Darabi brought it to my attention rather stunningly by quoting a real life story.
She narrated, “Years ago, one of our distant relatives divorced his wife under rage and then was sorry and wanted to get back with her. However, the Mulla would not remarry them unless she married another man, spent a night with the new husband (allowing him to have sex with her), and then was divorced the next day. I recall what a circus this was. The ex-husband was desperate to find a man to pay to marry his ex-wife for one night and then divorce her the next day. Since his ex-wife was a very beautiful woman from a distinguished family, the man needed someone he could trust would divorce his ex-wife the next day. So finally they asked one of my father’s workers to marry the woman. The ex-husband paid this man a substantial sum of money, he slept with the ex-wife for one night, and they were divorced the next day.”
Commenting on this incident, Darabi expressed her as follows: “I found this law barbaric and inhuman for several reasons, First, the woman’s feelings and rights are not considered and she is forced to be raped for one night by a total stranger. Second, the idea of a man paying another man to ravish his wife for an entire night is appalling. And finally, in the cases where the Muhallal does not divorce the woman, she is forced to live a life in misery (unless the Muhallal happens to be kinder than her ex-husband).”
This arrangement might have been suitable in the Muslim culture in Arabia some 1400 years ago; it certainly has outlived its utility now. (It is mutah time now). It is ing and humiliating to the women of the 21st century.
Coming back to mutah, while it is sanctioned in Shia Islam, modern Sunnis believe that mutah marriage is not Islamic. They claim that Omar al-Khattab, the second rightly-guided caliph, had forbidden it during his time. He considered it ‘haram.’ So, it existed in his time if he banned it. The justification for this type of marriage is deduced from the Quranic verse 4:24 which reads as follows:
“Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hand possesses: 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 fornication. Give them their dowry for the enjoyment you have of them as a duty: but if, after a dower is prescribed, ye agree mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise.”
In Maulan Maudoodi’s Tafsir, there is no mention of mutah marriage. He interpreted that the verse basically relates to the women “whom your right hand possesses,” i.e. the women acquired in the war booty. In Shia Islam, mutah is practiced routinely. They (Shias) don’t recognize Omar’s authority; they believe he was usurper of the caliphate which rightly belonged to Ali.
Who says Islam is outdated and decadent? At least for the provision of temporary marriage, it’s not. Live-in partners and live-in arrangements without marriage are only recent in the western culture while it’s an old hat in Islam. One of the benefits of mutah, stated in a matter of fact manner, is to know the partners well and to find out if they are physically and psychologically suitable for each other. Mutah is better than committing fornication (zina). It is sanctified fornication in itself.