Mut’ah or a form of temporary marriage is a marriage contract in the Islam culture. It was originally accepted by all people of the religion and even was practiced by the Prophet himself. However, after the Prophet died, it was banned by the caliph, ‘Umar. Since then, only Shi’ite Muslims have continued to accept mut’ah as a legitimate form of marriage. Mut’ah has been used for a variety of reasons including travel, to allow a man and woman without an intimate relationship to share a house or even to increase convenience for a woman. There are many, many more reasons that a mut’ah marriage might be used for but in today’s society there are two reasons that a majority of people take advantage of. Mut’ah can help two people who would like to date and spend time together without breaking the laws set by the Shari’a. It can also be used as a legalized form of prostitution because the contract that is written when a mut’ah marriage is established creates a loophole in the laws pertaining to prostitution. So, it raises the question: What is the purpose of mut’ah in today’s society? Is it a way to modernize dating for Muslims or is it a way to cover up illegal acts in the Islamic community?
The concept of mut’ah was around in the time of the Prophet and has been said that he himself had a few mut’ah marriages. There were two preeminent reasons for mut’ah marriages to exist. The first was in Islam, it is forbidden for a man and woman (who are not married or family) to be alone together. When mut’ah was used in this context, it was usually during long trips. For example, if a doctor were to accompany a woman and her child on a long trip, the doctor would draw up a mut’ah contract with the child. He would then be married to the child and the mother would now be his mother-in-law, so a related woman. It may seem a little absurd but in this time, Muslims followed the law told by the Prophet rigorously. Using mut’ah this way, to help both parties, is more justifiable then the second reason for mut’ah marriages in the time of the Prophet. A mut’ah has also been used “…as a religious sanction for alleviating men’s urges in times of need.” Mut’ah being used for this reason is where the negative and controversial aspect comes from. When entering into a mut’ah contract, since it is still a “marriage”, the man must still pay the woman a dowry. To put it simply, a contract is signed, the man pays the woman, they are now permitted to engage in sexual activities, and then when the stipulated length of the contract is up, the marriage is over. It is clear how mut’ah has gotten a negative reputation.
The second of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, had a very clear stance on mut’ah marriages. He actually bans the contracts. In a sermon that was documented, ‘Umar stated:
“The Qur’an is the Qur’an and the Prophet is the Prophet. Two kinds of mut’a were in practice when the Prophet was alive, mut’a of hajj and mut’a of marriage. As for the first,...