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The Temporary Contractual Marriage

What a disgraceful and degrading thing a temporary, contractual marriage is for a woman! This is something which Muhammad made lawful according to all the scholars and chroniclers without exception. What an insult to a woman whom Muhammad stripped of her humanity and dignity in order to become a mere instrument for man’s enjoyment! Can contemporary Muslim scholars who would die defending Islam answer this specific question and tell us why Muhammad allowed men to have sexual relationships with women merely for the sake of enjoyment? According to Muhammad’s statement, it could be for some money, or a dress, as Muhammad said to his followers, then he could desert her, leaving her without any rights. What is the difference between this and adultery and debauchery? Could Muhammad and the scholars solve this problem by calling it a temporary marriage or marriage of enjoyment?

Muhammad made it lawful for his followers at first, then prohibited it! Then he made it legal again! Therefore, as soon as he died, the most famous Muslim scholars and relatives of Muhammad (such as Abdulla Ibn-Abbas and Ibn Mas’ud) made it lawful It was also in practice during the era of Abu Bakr and Umar, as is recorded in Sahih Muslim.

At present, the Shi’ite sects are accustomed to it and practice it in different parts of the world because the Shi’ite leaders claim it. There are more than one hundred million Shi’ites worldwide. Ibn Abbas, who defends the legality of the temporary marriage of enjoyment and its continued practice, is well known among all the Muslim scholars. He occupied a very esteemed position with Muhammad and the caliphs who used to seek his legal opinion and call him the interpreter of the Qur’an.

Sahih al-Bukbari

In part 7, page 37, we read the following,

"While we were in the army, Allah’s Apostle came to us and said, ‘You have been allowed to have pleasure (Muta), so do it.’ If a man and a woman agree to marry temporarily, their marriage should last for three nights, and if they want to continue, they may do so."

There is also a very famous story related to us by Ibn Mas’ud and recorded in all the Islamic sources. We will allude to some aspect of it as it as mentioned in al-Bukhari, part 7, pp. 8,9, (also in section 6 of the interpretation of Sura, Chapter, "The Table," p.66- Arabic edition). Ibn Mas’ud said,

"We used to participate in holy battles led by Allah’s Apostle and we had no wives with us. At that time, he allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract and recited to us this verse, ‘Oh you who believe, make not unlawful the good things which Allah (God) has made lawful for you"’ (5:87).

This famous story is recorded also in Zad al-Ma’ad by Ibn Qayyimal-Jawziyya (part 5, p. 111). In Sahih Muslim, exposition of Nawawi (Vol. 3 pp. 553, 554), he indicated that Muhammad had allowed his followers to have sexual intercourse with women for a dress!

Sahih Muslim

It was proven that contractual marriage was permissible at the beginning of Islam. It used to be practiced during a journey or a raid, or when it was "necessary" and there was a lack of women. In one of Ibn Abu’Umar’s episodes, it said that it was admissible at the inception of Islam, especially when "there was a need for it".

Also, we read the following,

"The contractual marriage was lawful before the campaign of Khaybar; then it became unlawful in the day of the campaign. Then it was made lawful again in the day of Mecca’s conquest. After three days, it was prohibited. The episodes concerning the lawfulness (of the contractual marriage) in the day of the conquest are not ambiguous and it is not permissible to forfeit it. There is nothing that may inhibit the repetition of practicing the contractual marriage again, and God is the omniscient, and the scholars have agreed to regard the contractual marriage as a temporary legal marriage, which does not entail any inheritance. The separation occurs as soon as the date of the agreement expires, and it does not require any legal divorce. Ibn’Abbas used to preach its lawfulness" (pp. 553,554 volume 3 Sahih Moslem).

Actually Sahih of Muslim (in the same volume 3) records for us what Muhammad’s followers did when he allowed them to practice this. They used to meet a woman who belonged to one of the tribes (children of Amir) and attempt to seduce her by offering her either a dress or some dates or flour (p. 556). They spent three days with the harlot. Also sahih of Muslim describes for us in detail some moral scandals of which Muhammad approved. It also recounts that Muhammad himself used to bring the women to his followers or send a heralder to proclaim that it is permissible to sign contractual marriages (p.555 Vol. 3).

Ismail Ibn Kathir

In his famous book, "The Prophetic Biography", he tells us the following in part 3:

"The prohibition of the contractual marriage took place in the day of the Khaybar campaign. Yet it had been established in Sahih of Muslim that Muhammad allowed them again to (sign) a contractual marriage in the Day of Mecca’s conquest. Then he prohibited it. The Shafi’i said: ‘I do not know any other thing which was made lawful, then prohibited, then made lawful again, then unlawful except the contractual marriage, which was prohibited in the year in which Mecca was conquered, then after that it became lawful"’ (pp. 365,366).

Ibn Hisham recorded the same text in part 4, p.55.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya

In part 3, pp. 459, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya repeated this same statement of al-Shafi’i. He also said on p.345:

"After the death of Muhammad, Ibn’Abbas made it lawful when there was a need for it. He used to say that the apostle prohibited it when it was dispensable, but it was made lawful when it became a necessity."

He also says on p.46 1:

"Ibn Mas’ud said: ‘I made it lawful when it became indispensable for a man."’

Imam al-Baydawi

He agrees with all the above in his famous book, "The Interpretation of the Baydawi". He says,

"The purpose of the contractual marriage is the mere pleasure of intercourse with a woman, and her own enjoyment in what she has given" (p. 108).

I believe that all those scholars were very lucid in their statements and it is sufficient for us. They are Ibn’Abbas, Ibn Mas’ud, Sahih al Bukhari, sahih Muslim, Ibn Hisham Ibn Kathir, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and al-Imam al-Baydawi. Those scholars are recognized by all. Muslims and all contemporary scholars agree absolutely.

The Contemporary Scholars

1. The Saudi scholars: In the context of their interpretation of the Sahih al Bukhari (Vol. 7, p.36), they indicate:

"Nikah-al-Muta (marriage of pleasure) means temporary marriage for a limited period of time. This type of marriage was allowed in the early days of Islam."

2. In his book, "Nur al-Yaqin" ("The Light of Certainty"), the Sheikh al-Khudary says,

"The contractual marriage, which was a marriage for a definite time, had been practiced since the inception of Islam" (p. 207).

3. The scholar Musa al-Musawi

In his famous book, "The Shi’ites and the Reformation", he lucidly tells us:

"All the legists believe that Muhammad made this matter lawful at the inception of Islam" (p. 108).

4. The current Sheikh of Islam, Muhammad Mutawalli al-sha-rawi, indicates in his book, "al-Fatawi" ("The Legal Opinions"),

"The Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, leading other scholars, mentioned that contractual marriages were made lawful by the prophet and they were not abolished nor rescinded, but many scholars said that this matter was abolished later and that Muhammad, after making it lawful for a particular time during Islamic history, prohibited it" (p. 26).

We say to Dr. Musawi and to Sheikh al-Sha’rawi: Your statement that all the legists believe that Muhammad made it lawful at the inception of Islam is sufficient for us. This statement and this acknowledgment are what we want the reader to know. It is evident, however, that the scholars who said that this practice was not abolished or prohibited were among the most esteemed scholars such as Ibn’Abbas, Ibn Mas’ud, and the Imam Fakhr al-Razi. In his book, "The History of Islamic Law", Dr. Ahmad Shalabi states that Ibn’Abbas said that it is possible to allow contractual marriages when they are necessary (p. 190). Ibn Kathir also emphasizes in his book, "al-Bidaya Wa al-Nihaya" ("The Beginning and the End"), Vol. 8, p.300, that Ibn’Abbas was of the opinion that contractual marriage should be made lawful. In his Sahih, al-Bukhari records this dialogue,

"I heard Ibn Abbas when he was asked about Muta (pleasure) with women, and he permitted this kind of marriage. Only a slave of his said to him, ‘That is only when it is badly needed and women are scarce.’ At that Ibn Abbas said, ‘Yes"’ (Vol. 7, p. 37).

Who is Ibn Abbas?

All the scholars acknowledge that he is of the opinion that the contractual marriage should be made lawful when it is needed, and he believes that its ordinance is still applicable and has not been abolished. If we open Vol. 8 of Ibn Kathir’s book, "al-Bidaya We al-Nihaya" (pp. 295-307), we come across ample references pertaining to Ibn’ Abbas’ highly esteemed status among Muhammad’s relatives and companions in regard to his knowledge and thought. We would like to allude briefly to some of what is said about him.

Ibn Kathir says:

"Ibn ’Abbas is the most knowledgeable person among the people as to what God has revealed to Muhammad. Umar Ibn al-Khattab used to say that the interpreter of the Qur’an is Ibn’Abbas. He was accustomed to telling him: ‘You have acquired a knowledge which we never received. You are the most expert in the book of God"’ (pp. 299, 300).

Ibn’Abbas was the official legist of the Islamic law during the era of ’Umar Ibn al-Khattab, and ’Uthman Ibn ’Affan. When he died, Muhammad’s friend said,

"This nation has been afflicted with an incurable tragedy because Ibn’Abbas was the most knowledgeable among the people. We always needed him from sunrise to sunset."

These references to Ibn’Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin, are sufficient to convince the most skeptical of the importance of Ibn’Abbas’ status. It is well known that the argument of Ibn’ Abbas was strong and it was conclusive to the continuation of the practice of temporary contractual marriage because Muhammad made it lawful then unlawful, then he made it lawful again when it was necessary.

Yet, even if we assume that Ibn’Abbas (who was the most knowledgeable among people of what God had revealed to Muhammad) was mistaken, as well as Ibn Mas’ud al-Razi and many other scholars, and that Abu Bakr was also wrong since he allowed people to practice this matter during his reign; even if we assume that Muhammad made it unlawful permanently after he made it permissible, and that all those people were wrong, we still have this pressing, unanswerable question: Why did Muhammad make this disgraceful matter lawful in the first place; i.e., adultery and immorality? Why, even for a short period of time, would he legalize prostitution and call it contractual marriage? Why did Muhammad tell his followers, "Make an agreement with any woman to make love to her for three days, then give her compensation, such as a robe." His companions did so. Later, Muhammad prohibited it, then made it lawful again according to the need!

We would like to refer to Dr. Musa al Musawi’s statement in his book, "The Shi’ites and The Reformation", in which he says:

"This contractual marriage contains a license for licentiousness and degradation of woman’s dignity, the thing which we do not find even among permissive societies in ancient and modern history" (p. 109).

Then he adds (p. III), concerning the characteristics of this marriage:

"This marriage is carried out without a witness. The period of this marriage could be a quarter of an hour, or a day, or any period of time. In it, it is permissible for a man to have collectively an unaccountable number of women at the same time. The woman may not inherit her husband’s possessions, and a man does not give alimony to the spouse. Divorce is also carried out without a witness. This marriage is nothing but a license to practice sex provided that the woman is not married to another man."

Dr. Musa has a Ph.D. in Islamic law from the University of Tehran He taught Islamic philosophy and was elected as President of the Supreme Counsel of West America. Of course, Dr. Musawi’s criticism of the contractual marriage is appropriate. He indicates that this type of marriage has been abolished, yet he acknowledges (p.108 of his book) that all the scholars and legists without exception say that Muhammad made it lawful for his companions from the very beginning.

My friend, we had to discuss the issue of contractual marriage, or "legal prostitution" (as some would like to call it) in detail, but this prolongation is significant because this is an important matter for our practical life. It is also related to the dignity of women and reveals Muhammad’s view of women as being nothing more than tools for pleasure.

Taken from http://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv3.html#CH3 (Note: We do not necessarily endorse this site or its views.)