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
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
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!
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."’
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
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
"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
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.)