Book: Al-Mizan - An Exegesis Of The Qur'an; Author: al-'Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i; Translator: Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi; Publisher & Permission To Copy From:  WOFIS - World Organization For Islamic Services, P.O. Box: 11365-1545, Tehran - Iran; Tel: 824111, 4409354 & 4409355, Fax: 0098 21 4409423, Tlx: 222226 GIG IR

From pp. 91-162


Mutah In The Qur'an

Holy Qur'an: Surah an-Nisa (Chapter The Women):

Verses 23-28



By Page:

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Table Of Contents

Translation Of Chapter 4, Verses 23-28

Al-Mizan: Commentary

Commentary: "Forbidden to you...and sister's daughters"

Commentary: "and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster sisters"

Commentary: "and mothers of your wives"

Commentary: "and your step-daughters...there is no blame on you (in marrying them)"

Commentary: "and the wives of your sons who are from your loins"

Commentary: "and that you should have two sisters together"

Commentary: "except what has already passed"

Commentary: "surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful"

Commentary: "And all married women except those whom your right hand possess"

Commentary: "(this is) Allah's ordinance to you"

Commentary: "and lawful for you is (all) besides that"

Commentary: "that you seek (them) by means of your wealth... not committing fornication"

Commentary: "Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah, give them their dowries as appointed" 

Alternative grammatical explanations for the verse on Mutah

Mutah was a common practice amongst Muslims during the lifetime of the Prophet (saw)

The different views concerning the abrogation of the verse of Mutah by verses in the Qur'an

The different views concerning the abrogation of the verse of Mutah by Hadith of the Prophet (saw)

Let us look at the claims of abrogation by the Qur'an

Can verse of Qur'an on Mutah be abrogated by Hadith?

Commentary: "And whoever among you...from among your believing maidens"

Commentary: "and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other;"

Commentary: "so marry them with the permission...nor receiving paramours"

Commentary: "and when...they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women"

Commentary: "This is for him among you who fears falling into evil...and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful"

Commentary: "Allah desires to explain to you"

Commentary: "and to guide you into the ways of of those before you"

Commentary: "and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise"

Commentary: "And Allah desires....(their) lusts desire that you should deviate (with) a great deviation"

Commentary: "And Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, and man is created weak"


Hadith about Breastfeeding

Hadith about those with whom sexual relations are unlawful (Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law)

Hadith about those with whom sexual relations are unlawful (Two Slave Sisters at one time)

Hadith about the procedures for having sexual relations with your slave girl who is already married

Hadith about "And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means"

Hadith about seeking permission to marry a slave girl from her Master

Hadith about the punishment for a slaves who have illicit sex

A Review Of Traditions About Mutah Marriage

Hadith explaining the meaning of Qur'an 4:24

Saying Of Ali: "If Umar had not forbade Mutah only a scoundrel would commit fornication"

Hadith on extending the Mutah contract

Traditions On The Recitation: "For A Fixed Period"

Some Traditions Showing That The Mutah Was Abrogated By The Qur'an

Some Traditions Showing That Mutah Was Abrogated By The Sunnah

Some Traditions Of Some Companions And Their Disciples About Lawfulness Of The Mutah

Some Traditions Showing That It Was Umar Who Had Forbidden Mutah

Drawing Conclusions From These Contradictory Hadith On Mutah

"Mutah was only allowed due to poverty and when the Muslims went on expeditions" & its Reply

"Mutah is fornication and not marriage and goes against the Qur'an" & its Reply

"Mutah is a sort of lesser evil" & its Reply

"Allowing/disallowing Mutah was a way of gradually prohibiting fornication" & its Reply

"Fornication was common amongst the slaves but not the free women" & its Reply

"Umar did not do Ijtihad when banning Mutah, he just enforced the Prophet's prohibition" & its Reply

"Mutah was a pre-Islamic custom, and was never a part of Islam, thus there was no need for abrogation" & its Reply

Some Sunni Scholars who believed in the lawfulness of Mutah & Conclusion




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Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brother's daughters and sister's daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them) and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins, and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (23).


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 (24).


And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other; so marry them with the permission of their people, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours; and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women. This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (25).


Allah desires to explain to you, and to guide you into the ways of those before you, and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise (26).


And Allah desires that He should turn to you (mercifully), and those who follow (their) lusts desire that you should deviate (with) a great deviation (27).


Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, and man is created weak (28).




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These are decisive verses which enumerate the women with whom marriage is prohibited – and those who are allowed. The preceding verse, which prohibited marriage with fathers' wives, is connected in theme with these verses; but its style was more in agreement with the preceding verses; that is why we included it in the preceding commentary, as it had some thematic relevance with those verses also.


The verses give a list of all those women with whom marriage is absolutely prohibited without any condition or exception. This is clear from the words immediately after enumeration of pro­hibited relatives: and lawful for you is (all) besides that. . . That is why all scholars unanimously say that the verse prohibits son's daughter and daughter's daughter as well as father's mother and mother's mother; and that the verse: do not marry women whom your fathers married, prohibits grandfather's wife too. From this, we may easily understand, the Qur’anic view about sons and daughters and that who are included in these terms according to the shariah, as will be explained later, Allah willing.


QUR’AN: Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brother's daughters and sister's daughters: It is the list of those who are prohibited by blood-relation; they are seven in number. 'Mother' is a woman from whom man is born; either direct or through an intermediary, like father's mother or mother's mother, how high so ever. 'Daughter' is a woman who is born of the man, either direct or through an intermediary, like son's daughter or daughter's daughter, how low so ever. 'Sister' is a woman having affinity with the man by common birth from the same father and mother, or same father or same mother – without any intermediary. 'Paternal aunt' is father's sister, as well as paternal or maternal grandfather's sister. 'Maternal aunt' is mother's sister, as well as paternal or maternal grandmother's sister.



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Prohibition of mothers and the others described in the verse, means prohibition of marriage with them, as is understood from the subject and the order. It is not different from other such expressions; for example: Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood and flesh of swine ... (5:3), i.e., eating it; and the words: . . . So it shall surely be forbidden to them for forty years. (5:26), i.e., living in it. Such metaphorical expressions are very common in every language.


Nevertheless, it seems a bit difficult to say that it is 'marriage' which is implied by the word, 'forbidden', because of the exceptional clause coming later: except those whom your right hands possess. Sexual intercourse with one's slave women is lawful without marriage. Therefore, it would seem more appropriate if prohibition is taken to refer to sexual intercourse, and not to marriage alone, as will be explained later. The same is the implication of the words: that you seek (them) by means of your wealth . . . as will be described afterwards. Thus the fact emerges that the implied word after 'forbidden' is cohabitation, or another similar word, not marriage. Allah has avoided mentioning it explicitly, because the divine speech refrains from such words and maintains a high moral decorum.


The talk is addressed to men. It does not say: Forbidden to women are their sons, or, for example, there is no marriage between woman and her son. It is because by nature it is the man who seeks the woman and proposes marriage.


The verse addresses the men (in plural), and also the prohibited women are mentioned in plural, e.g., 'mothers' and 'daughters', etc. It implies comprehensive distribution. In other words, it means: Forbidden to each man among you is his mother and his daughter, etc. Obviously, it does not mean that the whole group of these women is forbidden to the whole group of men. Nor does it mean that every woman who happens to be a mother or a daughter is forbidden to every man. Otherwise, it would result in abrogation of the institution of marriage altogether. The verse, therefore, means that each man is forbidden to marry his mother, daughter and sister, etc.



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QUR’AN: and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster sisters: Now begins the list of the women prohibited by other than blood-relationship. They too are seven – six are mentioned in this verse and one in the preceding one: and marry not women whom your fathers married.


The style of the verse establishes motherhood and sonship between a woman and the child whom she suckles; likewise it creates brotherhood and sisterhood between man and his foster-sister; note how it uses the words 'mothers' and 'sisters' for them as an accepted reality. Therefore, according to the shariah, breast-feeding creates relationship parallel to blood-relationship; and as will be described later, it is a special feature of the Islamic laws.


Both sects have narrated a correct tradition from the Prophet that he said: “Verily Allah has prohibited through suckling what He has prohibited through blood-relationship.” It follows that suckling creates prohibition parallel to the prohibited blood-relationship, that is, foster-mother, foster-daughter, foster-sister, foster paternal aunt, foster maternal aunt, daughter of foster brother and daughter of foster-sister – a total of seven groups.


How the suckling relationship is established; what conditions are necessary concerning its quantity, quality and duration, to create the prohibition; and other relevant rules - these topics are explained in the Islamic jurisprudence, and are outside the scope of this book.


The words translated as, "and your foster-sisters", literally means, 'and your sisters from suckling', and the phrase refers to those sisters whom the man's mother had suckled with the milk flowing because of his father.


QUR’AN: and mothers of your wives: It makes no difference whether the man had established sexual relation with that wife or not. The word 'women', when used in genitive construction with ‘man’, means wives – unconditionally. This generality is clearly proved from the condition mentioned in the next sentence: . . . (born) of your wives [lit. 'women'] to whom you have gone in; but if you have not gone in to them. . .



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QUR’AN: and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in; but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them): ar-Raba'ib is plural of ar-Rabibah; it means daughter of a man's wife from a previous husband; because it is the present husband who looks after the children whom his wife brings with her. It is he who in most, if not all, cases looks after them and brings them up.


The clause translated as, "who are in your guardianship", literally means, 'who are in your lap'. This too denotes majority of cases, although not all step-daughters grow up in laps of their step­fathers. That is why it is said that the words, "who are in your guardianship", merely denote general situation, because step­daughter is forbidden whether she grows up in the lap of her mother's husband or not. The clause, therefore, is explanatory, not restrictive.


It is possible to maintain that the clause, “who are in your guardianship”, points to the underlying reason of the law prohibiting women of blood and other relations, as will be described later. There is continuous and constant mingling between men and these women; they are almost always together in the homes. Consequently, it would have been impossible to avoid incest (merely with prohibition of fornication) if they were not prohibited forever – as will be explained later.


Accordingly, the clause, "who are in your guardianship", indicates that the criterion and underlying reason of prohibition is applicable to your step-daughters as validly as it is to other groups of prohibited women, because mostly these daughters grow up in your laps and live with you together.


In any case, the clause, "who are in your guardianship", is not a restrictive proviso to limit the prohibition. In other words, it does not mean that a step-daughter is lawful to her step-father if she is not in his guardianship; let us say, if there is an adult daughter whose mother has married another husband. Note for proof the clear wordings of the next clause, "but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them)". Obviously, establishing sexual relation with her mother has a bearing on the law of prohibition, and, therefore, its absence negates the prohibition. If the daughter's being in the step-father's guardianship had any bearing on the prohibition, it was necessary to describe it in the same way.



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There is a phrase, that is, ‘in marrying them’, implied after the words, "there is no blame on you". It was deleted for brevity's sake as the context had made the meaning clear.


QUR’AN: and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins: al­-Hala'il is a plural of al-halilah. It is written in Majma ‘u ‘l-bayan: al-Hala’il is plural of al-halilah which is a synonym of al-muhallalah (= lawful); it is derived from al-halal (= legal, lawful); its masculine gender is al-halil (= lawful) and its plural is ahillah on the paradigm of 'aziz and a'izzah (= powerful). Husband and wife were given this name because each of them is lawful to his/her spouse. There is another view that it is derived from al-hulul (= to enter into something), because each spouse enters into bed with his/her partner.”


The word, 'sons', denotes male child begotten by a human being through birth, either direct or through a son or daughter, [how low so ever]. The, conditional clause, "who are of your loins", excludes wives of the so-called sons of adoption.


QUR’AN: and that you should have two sisters together . . . It ordains prohibition of marrying sister of a wife as long as the wife is alive and is married to the man. It is the best and the shortest construction to express this idea. The expression makes it clear that man is forbidden to have both sisters together in his marriage at the same time. There is no hindrance if a man marries a woman and then, after her divorce or death, marries her sister. The proof may be seen in the well-established conduct of the Muslims going back to the Prophet's time.


The exceptional clause: except what has already passed, has the same implication here as it had in the preceding verse: And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed. It looks at the custom, prevalent among the Arabs of [the era of] ignorance, of having two sisters in marriage together. This clause proclaims pardon to what they had done in the past – before this verse was revealed. It does not mean that such marriages – if they were contracted earlier – could continue even after the revelation. The verse clearly shows that from now such marriages, being prohibited and unlawful cannot continue. We have quoted in the "Traditions", under the verse: And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed, how the Prophet had separated between the sons and the wives of their fathers, at once after that verse was revealed, although the marriages had been contracted before its revelation.



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Question: What is the use of pardoning a previous marriage which was dissolved soon after revelation of the verse, and did not continue? What was the benefit of saying that that past union was not prohibited – was lawful – when it had already ceased to exist?


Reply: It had great benefits, because the effects of that marriage were continuing even after the marriage was dissolved, like legitimacy of children, recognition of various relationships and other related matters.


In other words, there is no use in saying that a past marriage, which had joined two sisters together, was lawful or unlawful – when both or one of them had died, or both or one of them had been divorced. But it is quite meaningful to declare that that past conjunction was not unlawful at that time. It was necessary for the welfare of the offspring of such marriages, as it gave them legitimacy and established relationship between the children and their natural fathers and other relatives, which in its turn had bearing on inheritance, marriage and other so many family affairs.


Accordingly, the clause: "except what has already passed", regularize the resulting legal aspects of that marriage – not the marriage itself which had anyhow ceased before this legislation. It shows that both sides of this exception are inter-related, are not of two different categories, as many exegetes, have written.


Also it is possible to apply this exception to all the clauses mentioned in the verse - without restricting it to the last clause, "and that you should have two sisters together". It is true that the Arabs did not marry any of the women mentioned in the verse except having two sisters together; they did not marry their mothers, daughters or other prohibited relatives. But, at the time of the revelation of these verses, there were many societies, like the Persians, the Romans and several other civilized and uncivilized nations, which married various prohibited women, each society following its own custom. Islam recognizes the validity of the prevalent marriage-systems of non-Muslim societies – provided it was considered lawful by their religion or tradition. Thus, the exception confirms the legitimacy of their children and recognizes the validity of their relationships even when they enter into the fold of Islam.



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Even so, the first explanation is more obvious.


QUR’AN: surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful: It explains the reason of the above-mentioned exception. It is one of those places where divine forgiveness refers to the external effects of a deed, and not to the sins and disobedience.


QUR’AN: And all married women except those whom your right hands possess: al-Muhsanat is the nomen patientis (passive participle) of al-ihsan (= to make inaccessible); they say: al-hisn al-hasin (= invulnerable fortress). When this verb is ascribed to woman as, for example, ahsanati‘l mar'ah it gives one of the following three connotations: i) The woman, being chaste, protected herself and abstained from illicit sexual relations, as Allah says: . . . who guarded her chastity (66:12); ii) The woman married, so her husband, or her marriage, protected her from others; in this sense, the verb may be used in passive voice; also iii) She is a free woman and it keeps her away from illicit sexual relations – because fornication was common among slave women.


Obviously, the word, al-Muhsanat, in this verse, has the second connotation, i.e., married women. It cannot have the first or the third meaning, because apart from the fourteen groups (mentioned in the preceding two verses), the only thing prohibited is marriage with a married woman; there is no snag at all in marrying other women, whether they be chaste or unchaste, free or slave. There is, therefore, no reason for interpreting the word, al-Muhsanat here as chaste women (because the prohibition is not confined to the chaste women) and then attaching to the verse a condition that they should not be in other's marriage. Nor is there any justification for explaining the said word as free women (because the rules about slave women are the same as those for free ones) and then attaching to the verse a condition of their being un-married. Such interpretations are not agreeable to good literary taste.



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Al-Muhsanat, therefore, means married women, i.e., those who are presently married to a husband. The word is in conjunction with your mothers and your daughters . . . The meaning: Forbidden to you are all married women as long as their present marriage continues.


Consequently, the exceptional clause, "except those whom your right hands possess" will exclude one's married slave girl from this prohibition. It has been narrated in traditions that the master of a married slave woman may take away that woman from her husband, keep her untouched for the prescribed term, then have sexual relation with her, and thereafter return her to her husband.


Some exegetes have opined: The exception, "except those whom your right hands possess", means, except those chaste women whom you possess by marriage or as slave. Possession thus implies the right of having sexual pleasure.


But this opinion is not correct, because:


First: It interprets the word, al-Muhsanat (= married women) as chaste women, and you have already seen how wrong that interpretation is.


Second: The Qur’an always uses the phrase, "those whom your right hands possess", for slaves; not for any other right of benefiting from something.


Likewise, someone has said: The phrase refers to unbeliever married women imprisoned in jihad. A tradition from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri is offered in support, in which he says: "This verse was revealed about the captives of Awtas, where the Muslims had captured some women of the polytheists, whose husbands were in (their) non-Muslim region. When this verse was revealed, an announcer announced on behalf of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) 'Be careful! The pregnant ones should not be approached for sexual intercourse until they deliver, nor the non-pregnant ones until they complete (their) waiting period.’”



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But apart from weakness of this tradition, it amounts to particularization of the verse without a particularizer.


Therefore, only the meaning given by us is to the point.


QUR’AN: (this is) Allah's ordinance to you: The phrase, "Allah's ordinance to you", means: Adhere to Allah's command which is ordained and prescribed for you. The exegetes have said: "Allah's ordinance to you"' is a cognate accusative of an implied verb. The original sentence is supposed to be: Allah has ordained an ordinance for you; the verb was then deleted and the accusative – ordinance – attached to the subject – Allah – in a genitive construction, taking the place of the subject. They have not taken the phrase, "to you", as verbal-noun [in the meaning of, 'It is incumbent on you']; because the grammarians say that this phrase, as a verbal-noun, is weak in effect and its object cannot precede it [as it does in this verse].


QUR’AN: and lawful for you is (all) besides that: [The construction, ma wara'a dhalikum (= what is besides that) requires careful consideration.] It uses, ma (= what) which is obviously used for 'un-rational' things; the demonstrative pronoun, dhalikum, is used for masculine singular object. Also the phrase is followed by the words: that you seek by means of your wealth. All these factors together make it clear that the relative and demonstrative pronouns refer to the same thing which was implied by the beginning word, "Forbidden " ' i.e., sexual intercourse, or words like that. Meaning: It is lawful for you to have it with other than what has been described above, that is, to have sexual intercourse after marriage with other than the fifteen prohibited groups – or after obtaining in slavery some other women. In this way the appositional substantive (that you seek them by means of your wealth . . .) will perfectly enmesh with the rest of the sentence.


Many exegetes have explained this exceptional clause in very amusing ways. One says that the clause, "and lawful for you is (all) besides that ", means that all other relatives are lawful to you.



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According to another, it means that it is lawful for you to have less than five – i.e., four or less – women that you seek them for marriage by means of your wealth. A third one opines that, it is lawful for you to have slave women outside the mentioned fifteen groups. Still another says that it means: Lawful for you is all besides the prohibited relatives – provided the number does not exceed four – that you seek by means of your wealth to marry them or purchase them in slavery.


All these interpretations are simply absurd, because none is supported by the wordings of the verse. Moreover, all of them apply the relative pronoun, 'what', to rational beings, without any justification, as you have seen above. Apart from that, the verse aims only at explaining with whom conjugal relations cannot be established. In this context, it enumerates the prohibited groups of women – without looking at their number. There is no reason why the exceptional clause should be explained in term of numbers. The fact is that the verse aims at describing permission for the acquisition of women – other than those mentioned in the preceding two verses – by marriage or by possession.


QUR’AN: that you seek (them) by means of your wealth, taking (them) with chastity, not committing fornication: The clause is neither an appositional substantive standing for the preceding clauses, (all) besides that; or is in explicative apposition with that. In any case, it explains the lawful way of approaching women and having sexual intercourse with them. The preceding exceptional clause: and lawful for you is (all) besides that, if left at that, could be applied to three things: Marriage, possession by slavery and fornication. This clause, "that you seek . . .” forbids fornication and restricts permission to the remaining two: marriage and possession by slavery. Then it attaches importance to seeking them by means of one's wealth: In marriage, it is dowry, which is one of its chief elements; in possession, it is price, which is the main procedure of acquiring slaves. The meaning now will be as follows: Apart from the above-mentioned prohibited categories, you are allowed to seek other women by spending your wealth on dowry of those whom you marry, or on price of slave girls – in all this you have to remain chaste and avoid illicit sexual relations.



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It is now clear that the word, muhsinin in this clause denotes chastity; it cannot imply being married or free. The phrase "seek (them) by means of your wealth” covers marriage and possession both; there is no reason to restrict it to marriage: therefore, the word, muhsinin, should not be restricted here to married ones. Also chastity does not mean celibacy; otherwise, the word would be irrelevant here. The word, chastity, as used here is opposite of illicit sexual relations of all types. It tells men to restrain themselves from unlawful sexual activities and restrict themselves to what Allah has allowed of the sexual enjoyment – to which man is attracted by natural instinct.


Someone has said that the clause, "that you seek (them)", means 'in order that you may seek them'. But this view is not correct. This clause explains the same thing which was said by the preceding one: and lawful for you is (all) besides that. Therefore, it is appositional substantive standing for the preceding clause; it does not mention anything that springs from the preceding one, or which is the effect of that.


Likewise, another writer has opined that the verb, al-musafahah (= to spill or shed something; metaphorically used in meaning of fornication) used here in the form of ghayra musafihin (= translated here as, not committing fornication) has actually been used in its literal sense, and the verse forbids merely ejaculating semen in womb, without intending to achieve the goal for which Allah has created the natural sexual urge in man, i.e., without wanting to establish a family and procreate. Conversely, al-ihsan implies permanent marriage which aims at producing children.


Reply: The only thing that can be said about the writer is that he is confused. Generally, there are two ways of discussing a law: Sometimes one looks at its underlying reason and benefit; at other times, talk is focused at the law itself. That writer has muddled the two together, inadvertently putting himself in a corner.



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Discussion about underlying reason of a law is rational in nature, based on intellect; while discussion of the law itself - together with its subject, concomitants, conditions and impediments – is based on its wordings, and its expansion or constriction depends entirely on that of the phraseology chosen by the Law-giver. Of course, there is no doubt that, all the divinely ordained laws are based on genuine reasons and benefits. The ordainment of marriage laws too is based on real benefit, genuine underlying reason, and that is procreation. We also know that the system of creation wants human species to continue through successive existence of its individual members – as long as Allah wished. To achieve that goal, human body has been equipped with procreative organs; which take a minute part of human bodies, nurture and develop it until it becomes a new human being, ready to take the place of the preceding generation. In this way the species continues without interruption. At the same time, sexual urge was ingrained in human beings in order that they should not neglect using the said organs. It is because of this urge that each group – male and female – is attracted to the other and establishes sexual relations. All this was perfected with the power of understanding, which prevents human beings from subverting this process to which the system of creation invites.


Even so, although the natural system has achieved its goal, that is, continuation of human species, we know that not every sexual intercourse between man and woman achieves that goal. Cohabitation is the initial step on that path. But not every union is blessed with child, nor every sexual intercourse results in pregnancy, nor every lust brings about that effect. Not every man or woman, nor every marriage, is inexorably pushed to cohabitation and procreation. These things happen in many, but not in all, cases.


The natural faculty exhorts man to marry, seeking procreation through sexual urge; and the reason ingrained in him restrains him from indecency, from unlawful carnal activities, as such deviation spoils felicity of life, demolishes foundation of family and disrupts procreation.


This composite benefit – procreation and prevention of indecency – is the underlying reason (which takes place in most of the cases), on which the institution of marriage is based in Islam. But this 'appearance in most of the cases', this generality, governs the underlying reason only. So far as the related ordained laws are concerned, they are not for 'most', but for all, human beings and for all times.



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Therefore, it is not correct to say that marriage or cohabitation should be lawful or unlawful depending on whether or not the afore-said benefit can be obtained from it. It will be absurd to claim that marriage is not lawful without intention of procreation. Otherwise, such people will have to say that: marriage of an infertile man or woman is unlawful; marriage of a woman in menopause is unlawful; marriage of a minor girl is unlawful; marriage of a fornicator is unlawful; intercourse with a pregnant wife is unlawful; intercourse without ejaculation is unlawful; marriage, before establishing a household is unlawful; and so on and so forth. [i]


The fact is that marriage between male and female is a lawful institution, and it has its own permanent rules and regulations [which apply to the whole mankind for all times to come - without any exception]. This institution was established for protection of common benefits which are obtained from it in most cases, as you have seen. But it is meaningless to make this ordained institution dependent on that benefit for its existence [or lawfulness], or to say that every marriage or its every rule or aspect that did not lead to procreation was unlawful.



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QUR’AN: Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah give them their dowries as appointed; . . . Probably, the word, ma (= translated here as 'such') is relative pronoun; the verb, "you have Mutah" is its antecedent; the pronoun in bihi (= with whom) refers to the relative pronoun, and the words, "of them" to the antecedent. Meaning: Then as to such of the women with whom you have Mutah.


Another possible grammatical explanation: The pronoun in bihi (with whom) refers to cohabitation (which was implied in the clause: and lawful for you is (all) besides that; 'ma' then would denote time and mean 'whenever'; and the words, 'of them', would be connected to the verb, istamta'tum which may literally be translated as, 'you seek to enjoy'. In this case, the translation would be as follows: Then whenever you seek to enjoy (sexually) with any of them, give them their dowries as appointed.


This sentence, “Then as to such of them . . .”, undoubtedly branches out from the preceding talk – as the letter, fa (= then) shows – as a component is described after the whole, or a particular is explained after the general. As was explained, the preceding sentence: that you seek (them) by means of your wealth . . ., is certainly a branching of a component or particular from a whole or general concept.


Such branching is very common in the divine book. For example: For a counted number of days; then whoever among you is sick or on a journey. . . (2:184); . . . when you are secure, then whosoever enjoys by the 'umrah until the hajj . . . (2:196); There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the rebels (false deities) and believes in Allah . . .  (2:256); there are many such examples.


There is no doubt whatsoever that the word, al-istimta’ (= lit., to enjoy) used in this verse means Mutah marriage. The verse is Medinite, and a part of the chapter of 'The Women', that was revealed in the first half of the Prophet's life at Medina, as the majority of its verses indicate; and in that period this type of marriage, i.e., Mutah, was, without any doubt, a common practice, a prevalent custom among the Muslims – and the traditions unanimously accept this fact. It makes no difference whether or not it was Islam which had originated this system; what is important is the fact that this marriage was in vogue within the sight and hearing of the Prophet; and it had this very name, Mutah; no other word was used to denote this type of marriage.



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Accordingly, there is no escape from applying the clause, fa-masta'tum bihi minhunna to the Mutah marriage. There were so many customs, practices and cohabits prevalent among the Arabs at the period of the revelation, which had their own well-known and well-understood names; and whenever a verse was revealed concerning them using their names – whether it was confirmation or rejection, order or prohibition – there was no other way but to apply that nomenclature to their usual meanings – i.e., to the customs concerned; nobody ever thought of interpreting those names in their literal sense. For example, Qur’an has used the words, hajj, trade, interest, profit, booty, and many similar names, but no one could ever think that, for instance, hajj of the House meant planning to go to the Ka'bah; nor were other such names ever explained in their literal meanings. Likewise, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) brought many items of the shariah, and they spread with their given religious names, like salaat, sawm (fast), zakat, hajju't-tamattu' etc. After the establishment of these names, nobody would think of applying these words, when they appear in the Qur’an, to their original literal meanings – once the words have been established for their terminological meanings – in the usage of the religion or the people of religion.


Therefore, the only possible way is to apply the word, al-istimta', of this verse, on the Mutah marriage, because it was known with this very name when this verse was revealed. It is quite irrelevant whether or not the Mutah marriage was later abrogated by the Qur’an or tradition.


In short, the verse speaks about an aspect of the Mutah marriage; and it is the explanation which is narrated from the ancient exegetes among the Companions and their disciples, like Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, Ubayy ibn Ka'b, Qatadah, Mujahid, as-Suddi, Ibn Jubayr, al-Hasan and others. The same is the madhhab of the Imams of the Ahlu 'l-bayt (a.s.).


This shows the incorrectness of the following two interpretations:


Some exegetes have written that al-istimta' (lit., to seek enjoyment) means marriage, because marriage-tie is established in order to get enjoyment from it.



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Someone else has said that istamta'tum actually means tamatta'tum (= you enjoy); and 's' and 't' have been added only for emphasis, [not to indicate seeking of something].


But both opinions are wrong, because prevalence and currency of Mutah marriage (with this very name) among them does not leave any room to its literal meaning to enter the hearers' minds.


Moreover, if we accept [for the sake of argument] that the verse means seeking enjoyment, or enjoying, then this conditional clause would not agree with the resulting clause. It will be wrong to say that when you enjoy (sexually with) or seek to enjoy with, a woman, then give her dowry to her. The wife becomes entitled to dowry just on recitation of the formula of marriage; it does not depend on sexual relation, nor on the pursuit of the same (a term which may apply even to proposal of marriage, recitation of marriage formula, foreplay and sexual intercourse, etc.). Of course, half of the dowry is payable on recitation of the formula and the balance on coition.


Apart from that, many verses, which were revealed before it, had fully established the obligation of paying dowry, with all its various propositions. Accordingly, there was no reason to repeat the order of its obligation here. Vide, for example:

And give women their dowries as a free gift (4:4).

And if you wish to have (one) wife in place of another and you have given one of them a heap of gold, then take not from it anything. . . (4:20-21).

There is no blame on you if you divorce women while yet you have not touched them or appointed for them a dowry, and make provision for them, on the wealthy according to his means and on the straitened in circumstances according to his means, . . . And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have appointed for them a dowry, then (pay to them) half of what you have appointed, unless they remit or he remits in whose hand is the marriage-tie; and it is nearer to piety that you should remit;. . . (2:236-7).



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Someone has proposed that this sentence may be aiming at putting emphasis on the law of dowry. But the above-mentioned verses, and especially the ending clauses of the verses: And if you wish to have (one) wife in place of another. . . are much more forceful and stronger than the verse under discussion. Therefore, how can this verse be supposed to put emphasis on those verses?


Now, a look at the question of abrogation:


It has been said that this verse was abrogated by the following verses of the chapter of 'The Believers': . . . And who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable; but whoever seeks to go beyond that, these are they that exceed the limits (23:5-7).


Another suggestion: It was abrogated by the verse of al-‘iddah (= waiting period after divorce or death of husband): O Prophet! When you divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed time, and calculate the number of the days prescribed (65: 1); And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three monthly courses. . . (2:228). Their argument: The marriage is dissolved by means of divorce and waiting period, but Mutah marriage has neither.


A third suggestion: It was abrogated by the verse of inheritance: And you shall have half of what your wives leave. . . (4:12). There is no inheritance in Mutah marriage.


Fourth suggestion: It is abrogated by the verse of prohibition: Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters. . . (4:23), as this verse is about marriage.


Fifth: It is abrogated by the verse of number: then marry such (other) women as seem good to you, two and three and four (4:3).


Others have said that the verse of Mutah is abrogated by tradition. [But they seem unable to agree on its details:]


It is said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) abrogated the Mutah marriage in the year of Khaybar [i.e., 7 AH].


Others say: It was abrogated in the year of the Conquest [of Mecca, i.e., 8 AH].


Third claim: It was abolished in the Last Hajj [i.e., 10 AH].



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A fourth claim is that Mutah was allowed, then forbidden; and this alternate permission and prohibition happened twice or thrice, and the last order was of prohibition.


Let us look at the claims of abrogation by the Qur’an:


1. As for the verse of the chapter of 'The Believers', first of all it cannot abrogate the verse of Mutah, because it is of Meccan period while the verse of Mutah is of Medinite period, and a Meccan verse cannot abrogate a Medinite one.


Second: The claim that Mutah is not a marriage, or a woman married in Mutah is not a wife, is totally unacceptable. You will see the truth if you just look at the sayings of the Prophet and wordings of the early Muslims, including the Companions and their disciples, who always called it Mutah marriage. [ii]


2. As for the claim of abrogation by the verses of inheritance, divorce or number, the relation between these and the verse of Mutah is not that of abrogator and abrogated. It is the relation that exists between general and particular, or between unrestricted and restricted. Let us look, for example, at the verse of inheritance; it is general and covers all wives whether married in permanent marriage or temporary one, and then the tradition particularizes it by removing some groups from its jurisdiction, i.e., it excludes wives of Mutah marriage from inheritance. [iii] The same is obviously the case with the verses of divorce and number. Probably those who claimed abrogation could not distinguish the two relations.



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Of course, some scholars of the Fundamentals of Jurisprudence have said that if a particular order is given then a contradictory general order follows, it abrogates the previous particular one. But apart from weakness of this view (as has been explained in its place), it cannot be applied to this case, because:


The verse of divorce (the general order) is in the chapter of 'The Cow', which is the first Medinite chapter revealed before the chapter of 'The Women' which contains the verse of Mutah.


Likewise, the verse of number, a part of the same chapter of 'The Women', precedes [and is not preceded by] the verse of Mutah; the same is the case with the verse of inheritance, which comes before the verse of Mutah in one uninterrupted sequence and context in the same chapter. The particular order, therefore, was given later than the general one, in any case.


3. The claim, that this verse was abrogated by this very verse of prohibition is most astonishing of all. First, because the whole verse containing details of prohibited women and permission of Mutah is one single speech, having one context; its sentences are interlinked, its parts interconnected. How could it be imagined that one of its clauses would legalize the Mutah marriage and the preceding sentences would revoke this subsequent order?


Second: This whole verse says nothing, explicitly or implicitly, about prohibition of temporary marriage. It only aims at describing the categories of the women who are prohibited to man, and then at declaring that all other women are lawful to them, either with marriage or possession; and as we have explained, Mutah is a marriage. The two things are not contradictory to each other, so that it could lead to abrogation or revocation.


Objection: The clauses: and lawful for you is (all) besides that – that you seek (them) by means of your wealth, taking (them) with chastity, not committing fornication, makes it difficult to interpret this verse in terms of Mutah. The former has made lawfulness of women conditional on dowry and on marriage without fornication; and there is no marriage in Mutah; that is why if a man (who has a Mutah wife) commits adultery, he is not stoned, because he is not considered as married.


Reply: First, this argument is not based on solid grounds. We have already described (while explaining the phrase, taking [them] with chastity, not committing fornication) that al-ihsan in this context means chastity, not marriage, because the phrase covers union with one's slave girls as well.



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Second: There will be no difficulty even if we agree, for the sake of argument, that al-ihsan refers here to marriage. It would only mean that the law of stoning an adulterer was not applicable to a man who had a wife of Mutah, and that this exclusion was based on the tradition, not on the Qur’an. After all, the law of stoning itself is not mentioned anywhere in the Qur’an.


4. As for the claim of abrogation by tradition, we shall discuss it in detail under the “Traditions”. At this juncture, it is enough to point out that such abrogation is invalid ab initio, as it goes against the mutawatir traditions ordering the Muslims to judge the traditions with the help of the Qur’an and reject what does not agree with it.


QUR’AN: And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; at-Tawl (= riches; ampleness of ability); either meaning fits, in the context. Al-Muhsanat in this verse means free women, because it has been used in contrast to slave women; this also shows that it has not been used in the meaning of chaste; otherwise it would have been contrasted with unchaste. Obviously, it does not refer to married women either, because they cannot be married again [as long as their present marriage continues]; nor does it mean Muslim women; otherwise there was no need to qualify it with the adjective, 'believing'.


The words, "those whom your right hands possess", actually means slaves of other believers than him who intends to marry, because a man is not allowed to 'marry' his own slave-girl – such a marriage is void. Possession has been ascribed to all the believers – not excepting the suitor – because Islam counts all believers as one body, not separate from one another, inasmuch as their religion is one and their benefits are one; it is as though they were one person.



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The words, 'free women' and 'maidens', have been qualified with the adjective, 'believing'. It indicates unlawfulness of marriage with non-believing woman, be she a Jewish, a Christian or a polytheist. This topic has a supplement which will be found in the beginning of the fifth chapter, 'The Table', Allah willing.


The verse says that whoever among you is unable to marry free believing woman, inasmuch as he does not have means to pay dowry and meet her expenses, then he may marry believing slave girls, in order that he should not face difficulties (because of his inability to marry free women) and should not put himself in danger of indecency and spiritual infelicity.


The marriage, in this verse, refers to permanent marriage. The verse provides an alternative (of an inferior category), i.e., if you are unable to do that, then do this. The talk has been confined to only one group of the higher category, i.e., to the permanent marriage, to the exclusion of the temporary one, because it is the permanent marriage which is more popular and which a man – who wants to establish a house, procreate and leave an heir – naturally opts for. As for the Mutah (temporary) marriage, it is a facility provided by the religion, which Allah has used to lighten the burden of His servants, in order that the path of indecency should be closed and social evils be uprooted.


Not infrequently, the Qur’an narrows an ongoing talk to its well-known aspects which generally come to mind at the first glance – and especially so in ordaining the shariah's rules and regulations. For example, Allah says:


. . . so whoever of you witness the month, he shall fast there­in, and whoever is sick or on a journey, (he shall fast) the same number of other days (2:185). But we know that genuine reasons of postponing a fast are not confined to sickness and journey.


        ... and if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to clean earth . . . (4:43). As you see, the verse mentions only the more common and well-known causes of at-tayammum (= ritual ablution with earth). There are many examples of this style.


This explanation has been written keeping in sight the general view that this verse refers to the permanent marriage. But its wordings can easily be applied to marriage in general – permanent and temporary alike – as will be shown in explanation of the rest of the clauses.



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What we have shown here is that even if we apply the word ‘marriage’ here to permanent one, and look at the inferior alternative it provides and the latitude it gives, it does not necessarily follow that the marriage in preceding verse should exclusively refer to the permanent one and that the verse: Then as such of them with whom you have Mutah . . . should have nothing to do with Mutah marriage – as some people have said. The fact is that both sides of this latitude – the original order and the alternative – are found in this very clause, "And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means . . . then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess. There is no need to go further back to explain this verse.


QUR’AN: and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other . . .: As this order was conditional on belief; and belief is a matter of heart, the reality of which cannot be known by others. There was a possibility for people to think that the permission was conditional on something difficult or next to impossible; this could have prevented them from making use of it. Therefore, Allah declared that He knows the faith of His believing servants. It implies that people are required to base their mutual dealings on apparent signs that point to the faith, like the two witnessings, attending congregational prayers and discharging common religious duties. Thus, the criterion is the, apparent belief, not its reality.


The direction given to non-affluent Muslims to marry slave girls had another apparent disadvantage, which could affect compliance: Common people looked down at slaves, who generally suffered from disrespect and dishonour, indignity and humiliation. This created in the people a sort of disinclination towards mingling and mixing with them socially, and particularly towards establishing marriage-ties with them, which is a lifelong partnership and unites both parties in heart and body.



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[To erase that aversion] Allah has said, "You are (sprung) the one from the other". It is a clear reality which would, if pondered upon, remove this wrong impression, this prejudice. Slave is as much a human being as is a free man; there is no difference between them in any aspect of humanness. The only difference is in some laid down rules which were necessary for maintenance of human society, so that they could lead to people's felicity. But such distinctions have no validity before Allah. What is recognized is the piety with which man finds honour before Allah. It is not good for the believers to be influenced by such imaginary allusion which would remove them from knowledge, the real knowledge that ensures their success and happiness in both worlds. It should not be forgotten that deviation from the straight pathway – even if it looks slight in the initial stages – continues to take man further and from the path of guidance until it throws him into the valley of perdition.


It is now clear that the sequence in the beginning of the verse that contains a condition and implies a sort of concession and latitude (whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then [he may marry] of those whom your right hands possess. . .), is just a way of talking, using the same style which the audience generally did under the influence of its habit and custom. But it is not an obligatory condition that the believers must follow this sequence. In other words, it is not that one has to be too poor to marry a free woman before he is allowed to marry a slave girl. It is just that the Qur’an has addressed the people in their own language. That is why it has said that if you are unable to marry free women, you should marry slave girls without any hesitation. Then it has drawn their attention to the fact that the free and the slave both are members of the same humanity, each of them is related to the other.


It also shows incorrectness of what someone has written under the clause, "and that you abstain is better for you", that it means: if you abstain from marrying slave women and remain chaste, it is better for you than marrying them – as it may bring disgrace and indignity to you. The fact is that the clause, "you are (sprung) the one from the other", contradicts such interpretations.



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QUR’AN: so marry them with the permission of their people, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours: In this paragraph, al-Muhsanat refers to chaste women; it cannot mean married ones, because there is no question of marrying them while they are married. Al-Musafihat (= fornicating women) is placed parallel to the phrase, “receiving paramours”. Al-Akhdan is plural of al-khidn (= friend, paramour) it is used for masculine as well as feminine, and for singular as well as plural; this verse uses the plural form to clearly point to numerousness; when one takes a paramour for fornication, one generally does not stop at one or two, because man's appetite does not stop at any point once it exceeds the limit.


It is looking at this contraposition that someone has said: The word, fornication, as used in this verse, means open illicit sexual relation, and receiving paramour implies secret liaison. Such secret affairs were commonplace in Arabia; even among free women it was not frowned upon; while open fornication was criticized if done by other than slave girls.


The clause, "so marry them with the permission of their people", advises them to marry slave women provided it is done with permission of their masters; because the rein of their affairs is held by none other then their masters. The masters have been called their 'people' in accordance with the preceding clause: you are (sprung) the one from the other; thus the slave girl is a member of the family of her master, and the master is her guardian, her people.


One has to give them their dowries in a proper way. In other words, the suitor should fix her dowry according to prevalent standard; paying it to her actually means paying it to her master. The clause guides the people to appoint and pay their dowries without reduction, without delay and without hurting the feelings.


QUR’AN: and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women: The verb uhsinna (= they are taken in marriage) is in passive voice; some have recited it in active voice, and that recitation is rather preferable.



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If al-ihsan refers to their marriage, then it was included in the conditional clause just because the preceding talk had circled around their marriage. [It has no legalistic significance] because if a slave fornicates, she gets only half the punishment of a free woman who is guilty of the same offence; and it makes no difference whether the slave girl is married or not; her being married does not increase her sentence in any way.


But if al-ihsan refers to their being Muslims – which the recitation of active voice would support – then the meaning will fit the wordings effortlessly. They shall suffer half the punishment of the free women, no matter whether they are married or not.


The punishment refers to flogging, not stoning, because stoning cannot be halved. This in its turn proves that the word, al-Muhsanat (translated here as 'free women') refers to unmarried ones, and not to the married ones who are mentioned by the same word, in the beginning of the verse [24: And all married women. . . ]. The definite article in 'the punishment’ refers to the well-known punishment. The meaning: If believing slave women commit indecency, i.e., fornication, they shall be given half the punishment of unmarried free women, that is, they shall receive fifty stripes.


Another possible explanation: al-Ihsan may imply chastity. The salve girls in those days were not free to do as they liked; they had to obey the orders of their masters, especially in indecency and debauchery. When they indulged in prostitution, it was usually by the order of their masters who exploited them and used them as a source of income. The masters sold their slaves' honour to increase their wealth. This aspect is implied in the prohibition contained in the verse: and do not compel your slave girls to prostitution when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail good of this world's life (24:33). Obviously when they sold their bodies and indulged in prostitution, it was done by the order of their masters, without any choice left to them. If the masters did not compel them for fornication, then the believing slaves among them would have observed Islamic piety, at least in appearance, and would have preserved their chastity as was expected of a believer. But if they indulged in fornication after that, then they would be given half the punishment of free women. It is this aspect to which the verse points, "and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women".



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But if the word uhsinna (translated here as, "taken in marriage"), is taken to indicate chastity ['and when they become chaste'], then the conditional clause would be superfluous, because if they were not chaste then they would be under duress, compelled to do as their masters said. Likewise, there would be no meaning in the words: and do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, when they desire to keep chaste (24:33), because if they do not want to be chaste, there is no question of compulsion by the masters – they would indulge in fornication willingly. Think over it.


QUR’AN: This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful: al-‘Anat literally means affliction, hardship and perdition; in this context, it implies fornication, which takes place when man is afflicted by lust, suffers from hardship of sexual desire and thus falls in perdition. The demonstrative pronoun, 'This', reportedly refers to the marriage with slave girls mentioned in this verse. Accordingly, the next clause, "and that you abstain is better for you" would mean: If you abstain from marrying slave girls, or from fornication, it is better for you. Also, possibly the pronoun refers to the obligation of marriage with slave girls, or marriage in general – if such ideas could be inferred from the context of the preceding verse; and Allah knows better.


However, abstinence and patience is better, in any case. If it indicates abstaining from marrying slave girls, it is because of the rights their masters have on them and on their offspring – as described in books of jurisprudence; and if it implies abstaining from illicit sexual relations, then it looks at the purity of character that the patience and abstinence create, and at the trait of piety which is strengthened when man refuses to yield to his lustful desires – no matter whether he is married or not; "and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful": He erases, through His forgiveness, the effects of evil thoughts from the minds of His pious servants, and has mercy on them.



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QUR’AN: Allah desires to explain to you: This sentence and the subsequent ones indicate and explain the ultimate goal of various laws ordained in the preceding three verses; and the benefits that are derived when society follows them scrupulously. The meaning, accordingly, will be as follows: Allah desires to explain to you the rules of His religion, as it leads you to the good of this world and the next one, and contains many underlying benefits and reasons. According to this explanation, the object of this verb was deleted to show its greatness and importance. Another possibility: The verbs, "to explain to you", and "to guide you", may be having a common object, i.e., 'the ways of those before you'.


QUR’AN: and to guide you into the ways of those before you:  (Please see Professor Thomas McElwain's (Ali Haydar) chapter from Islam In The Bible about Mutah in the Bible called Concubinage Or Marriage Of Pleasure) That is, the life-styles of the prophets and the good people, who spent their days seeking Allah's pleasure, and through it enjoyed the happiness of this world and the hereafter. If this interpretation is correct, then "the ways" would indicate their way of life in general terms, not all their customs and traditions with all their details and particulars. Accordingly, there would be no room for the objection, that the ancients had some laws which these very verses have revoked, like marriage between brothers and sisters in Adam's time, and having two sisters together (in the shariah of Ya'qub, who, according to some reports, had two sisters together – Leah, mother of Judah, and Rachel, mother of Joseph). [iv]


There is another interpretation offered by some people: The clause speaks about guiding to the ways of all previous societies, no matter whether they were on the right path or the wrong. Accordingly, it means: We have explained to you all the previous customs – right and wrong, all – in order that you may have an insight into them, adopt the right customs and reject the wrong ones.



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There is no difficulty in accepting this meaning, except that guidance has not been used in this meaning in the Qur’an. It has always been used for conveyance to the truth or to show the truth. Allah says: Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases (28:56); Surely We have shown him the way; he may be thankful or unthankful (76:3). It is more appropriate to the Qur’anic taste to express such ideas, as given by that exegete, with the words, explanation or narration, etc.


Nevertheless, if the verbs, “to explain to you” and “to guide you” are taken to have the common object, "the ways of those before you"; and the subsequent verb, "to turn to you (mercifully)”, is also taken to refer to the same, then the above explanation will fit the verse properly. The meaning, then, would be as follows: 'Allah explains to you the ways of those before you, and guides you to the correct ones among them, and turns mercifully to you concerning the wrong customs which you had adopted.' The preceding verses have mentioned previous people's customs – right and wrong both – and have proclaimed pardon for the wrong practices of the past.


QUR’AN: and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is knowing, Wise: at-Tawbah here refers to Allah's turning to His servant with favour and mercy, ordaining the shariah and explaining the reality, and guiding him to the right path. All these are various facets of Allah's turning, as is the acceptance of the servant's penitence and erasure of sin's effects and consequence from him.


The ending clause, “and Allah is Knowing, Wise”, covers all the clauses of the verse. Had it been connected only to the last one, it would apparently have been more appropriate to say: and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.


QUR’AN: And Allah desires that He should turn to you (mercifully) and those who follow (their) lusts desire that you should deviate (with) a great deviation: The verse reiterates Allah's turning to the believers to indicate that the following sentence, i.e., "and those who follow (their) lusts desire that you should deviate (with) a great deviation", stands face to face with the only last of the three clauses of the preceding verse. If there were no repetition, the sentence, "and those who follow . . .” would have looked as standing parallel to all three preceding clauses, and would have seemed irrelevant.



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The great deviation implies transgression of Allah's limits described in these verses: Having incestuous relations; disregarding the effects of blood- and marriage-relationships; licentiousness and debauchery; and refusal to follow the right path laid by Allah.


QUR’AN: Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, and man is created weak: Man is weak. Why? Because desire is an integral part of his creation; it unceasingly incites him to indulge in lust, and thus creates an internal turmoil. Allah in His mercy and favour, has made lawful for them the ways to calm down their desire, i.e., He has ordained the institution of marriage to lighten their burdens and lessen their hardships, as He has said: and lawful for you is (all) besides that. This includes marriage and possession in this way He has guided them to the ways of those who were before them. Then He has given them another concession by legalizing the Mutah marriage, as it does not entail as much hardships as the permanent marriage does, i.e., heavy dowry, regular maintenance, etc.


Someone has said: The lightening of burdens refers to the permission of marrying slave girls in times of need. But this explanation is not to the point. Arabs used to marry slave girls at times of need even in pre-Islamic days; this custom was prevalent among them, although they did not like it, and considered it degrading to themselves. What these verses have done is to erase that stigma and removes that dislike and aversion, by explaining that a slave girl is as much a human being as a free woman is, without there being any difference between them in any way. The status of slavery does not make a slave unworthy of social mingling and family ties.


Undeniably, the verses are clearly addressed to the believers of this Ummah. Accordingly, the said lightening of burdens concerns this Ummah only, and it means what we have described.



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Now, the given reason that, "man is created weak", is not confined to this Ummah; it is common to all humanity, be they of this Ummah or of the previous ones; while the lightening of burdens was ordained for this Ummah only. The verse, thus, gives a general cause but keeps silent about what restricts its effect. It is as though it was saying: We have lightened your burdens, because the weakness pervading the mankind was always demanding this lightening; but there were always some impediments there, which prevented it from taking effect – the impediments which hindered lightening of burdens and spreading of mercy in previous nations. Then came your turn and the divine mercy has now encompassed you and its effects are now appearing among you. Now the said cause has brought its effects into being and Allah has reduced your burdens – although the previous nations were not allowed this concession. This fact may be gleaned from the following two verses: "Our Lord! Do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us” (1286); He has chosen you and has not laid upon you any hardship in religion (22:78).


It appears from the above that this general cause also aims at showing that all the favours bestowed on humanity have appeared in their complete form in this Ummah.






The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: "Verily, Allah has forbidden by reason of breast-feeding what He has forbidden by reason of blood-relationship."


Also he (s.a.w.a.) has said: "Suckling is a relationship like blood-relationship."


Malik and 'Abdur Razzaq have narrated from Ayishah that she said: "Among what was revealed of the Qur’an was (the verse of) ten known sucklings; then it was abrogated by (the verse of) five known (sucklings); and the Messenger of Allah expired and those (verses) were a part of what was recited of the Qur’an." (Ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


The author says: as-Suyuti has narrated in his above book other traditions from 'Ayishah, through other chains. But they are among the traditions which imply distortion and alteration of the Qur’an; such reports are totally rejected because of their inconsistency with the Qur’an.



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Abdur Razzaq, Abd ibn Hamid, Ibn Jarir, Ibnu 'I-Mundhir and al-Bayhaqi (in his as-Sunan) have narrated through two chains from Amr ibn Shu'ayb, from his father, from his grandfather from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he said: "When a man marries a woman, then it is not lawful to him to marry her mother, whether he has gone into that girl (his wife) or not; on the other hand, if he marries the mother and divorces her before going into her, then he may marry (her) daughter, if he so wishes." (Ibid.)


The author says: This meaning is narrated through the Shi`ah chains from the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s.), and it is their known madhhab, and the same is inferred from the Qur’an, as was explained in the preceding Commentary. But the Sunnis have narrated from 'Ali (a.s.) that there was no harm in marrying the mother of the wife (if one divorces the latter) before establishing sexual relations with her; and that she was in this respect like the step-daughters; also that it was not unlawful for a man to marry his step-daughter if she was not under his guardianship. But such assertions are contrary to all that is narrated from them (Imams, a.s.) through the Shi`ah chains.


Al-Kulayni has narrated through his chains from Mansur ibn Hazim that he said: 'I was with Abu Abdillah (a.s.) when a man came and asked him about a man who had married a woman, but she died before he could establish sexual relations with her – ‘Can he marry her mother?’ Thereupon, Abu Abdillah (a.s.) said: 'A man of us had done so and had not considered it objectionable.' Then I said: 'May I be made your ransom! The Shi`ah do not boast except by the judgment of 'Ali (a.s.) concerning this (problem) about al-mashikhah, [v] about which Ibn Mas’ud had given a ruling that there was no snag in it. Then he came to 'Ali (a.s.) and asked him. 'Ali (a.s.) said to him: "From where [i.e., on what authority] will he take her?' [vi] He said: "From the word of Allah, the Mighty, the Great: and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in; but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them)." 'Ali (a.s.) said: "This is conditional, while that (i.e., prohibition of the mother-in-law) is unconditional." ' Then Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) said to the man [who had asked the question]: 'Do you not hear what this (man) narrates from 'Ali (a.s.)?'



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"Thereafter when I stood up, I felt remorse and said (to myself): 'What have I done? He [i.e., the Imam, a.s.] says: "A man of us had done so and had not considered it objectionable", and then I [contradict him and] say: “Ali (a.s.) had given such ruling on this (matter)".' So I met him afterwards and said: 'May I be made your ransom! Concerning that man's enquiry, it was a mistake on my part that I spoke as I did; so what do you say in this respect?' He said: 'O Shaykh! You inform me that 'Ali (a.s.) had decided this matter and then you ask me what I say about it!' " (Al-Kafi)


The author says: The story of his judgment concerning the ruling of Ibn Mas'ud, as narrated in ad-Durru ’l-manthur from as­-Sunan, is as follows: A man from (the tribe of) Banu Shamakh married a woman, but before establishing sexual relations with her, he saw her mother and liked her. He asked Ibn Mas'ud about it; and he told him to leave (i.e., divorce) the said wife and then marry her mother. He did so, and got children from her. Then Ibn Mas'ud came to Medina and was told that she was not lawful (for him). Therefore, on returning to Kufah he informed the man that she was forbidden to him; and he separated from her.


But this story does not ascribe that judgment to 'Ali (a.s.). It rather says that he had asked the Companions of the Prophet about it. Another text says that he had asked 'Umar about it. A third narration says that he was informed that his ruling was not correct and that that condition applied to the step-daughters only.



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[Ash-Shaykh narrates] through his chains from Ishaq ibn 'Ammar from Ja'far (a.s.) from his father (a.s.) that 'Ali (a.s.) used to say: "The step-daughters are forbidden to you (who are born) of the mothers with whom you have cohabited, no matter whether they are in your guardianship or not; and (the wives') mothers are (forbidden) unconditionally, whether sexual intercourse was established or not. Therefore, treat as unlawful and unconditional what Allah has kept unconditional." (al-Istibsar)


The author says: Some Sunni traditions ascribe to 'Ali (a.s.) that prohibition of step-daughters was conditional on their being in one's guardianship. But this is rebutted by the traditions narrated from the Imams of Ahlu'1-bayt (a.s.), and as was explained earlier, the latter was in conformity with the connotation of the verse.


Al-Mubhamat (= translated above as 'unconditionally) is derived from al-buhmah, which implies a thing that has a single colour, unmixed with another colour. This adjective is used for those categories of prohibited women whose prohibition is general and unconditional, that is, mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, brother's daughters and sisters' daughters, as well as foster relatives, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.


Zurarah narrates from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) that he asked him about a man who has a slave girl with whom he has cohabited - "Is it lawful for him to marry her daughter?' The Imam (a.s.) said: 'No. She is as Allah has said: and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship . . .’” (ibid.)


Abu 'Awn has reported that he heard Abu Salih al-Hanafi saying: “‘Ali (a.s.) said one day: 'Ask me (whatever you wish to ask).' Ibn al-Kawwa' said: 'Tell me about the daughter of the foster sister, and about two sisters in possession (of one master).' (The Imam, a.s.) said: 'Surely you are wandering; (better) ask about that which concerns you or may be useful to you.' Ibn al-Kawwa' said: 'We ask you only about what we do not know; as for that which we know, we do not ask you about.’ Then (the Imam, a.s.) said [inter alia] : 'As for the two slave sisters, one verse makes them lawful, while another prohibits them; and I neither allow them nor forbid them; but I do not do it nor does anyone of my household.'

(at-Tafsir, al-'Ayyashi)



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It is narrated from Mu'ammar ibn Yahya ibn Salim that he said: "We asked Abu Ja'far (a.s.) about what the people narrate from the Leader of the faithful (a.s.) concerning some things which he neither allowed nor prohibited except his own self and his children; and I said: 'How is it possible that he said, "One verse allows it and another forbids it".' We said: 'First of all, either, one of them had abrogated the other, or both were decisive which should be followed.' (The Imam, a.s.) then said: 'He made the matter clear to them when he forbade himself and his children.' We said: 'What prevented him from explaining it [in clear words] to the people?' He said: 'He was afraid that his (orders) would not be obeyed; because if the Leader of the faithful could firmly establish his authority, he would have enforced the Book of Allah, all of it, and the truth, all of it!' "



The author says: The tradition of 'Ali (a.s.), referred to, is the one narrated from him through the Sunni chains. It is quoted in ad-Durru ‘l-manthur from al-Bayhaqi and others that 'Ali (a.s.) said about two sister slave girls: "One verse makes them lawful while another one prohibits them; and I neither allow (it) nor disallow (it); nor do I make them lawful or unlawful; and I do not do it, nor do the people of my household (do so).” The same book narrates from Qubaysah ibn Dhu’ayb that someone asked 'Ali (a.s.) about it and he said: "If I had any authority and had found anyone doing it, I would have made him a warning example (i.e., would have given him exemplary punishment).”


'Abdullah ibn Sinan said: "I heard Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) saying: 'If a man has two [slave] sisters in his possession, and has sexual relations with one of them, and then wishes to have the same [relations] with the other, it is not allowed to him to do so, until the former goes out of his possession - either he gifts her (to someone) or sells her. Thus it will be sufficient if he gives her as a gift to his son.' " (At-Tahdhib)



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Muhammad ibn Muslim said: 'I asked Abu Ja'far (a.s.) about the word of Allah: and all married women except those whom your right hands possess. He said: 'It is [like] this, that a man orders his slave (whom is married to his slave girl), and tells him, "Put aside your wife and do not go near her”. Then he keeps her confined until she sees her blood; after that he touches her. Thereafter when she again sees blood after his touching her, he returns her to him [i.e., to her slave husband] without [any need of a new] marriage.' " (Al-Kafi; at-Tafsir, al-'Ayyashi)


Ibn Muskan has narrated through Abu Basir, from one of the two Imams (a.s.), about the word of Allah: And all married women except those whom your right hands possess, that he said: "They are the women having husbands except those whom your right hands possess. If you have given your slave girl in marriage to your slave boy, you may remove her from him if you so wish." "I said: 'Do you see, if he has given her in marriage to other than his own slave boy?' He said: '(Then) he has no right to remove (her from him) until she is sold away; then if he sells her, her affair is transferred to other than him (i.e., to the buyer); then the buyer may separate (her from her husband) if he so desires, and may reconfirm (the marriage) if he so wishes." (At-Tafsir, al-Ayyashi)


As-Suyuti has narrated from Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi (who has said that the tradition is good) and Ibn Majah, from Firuz ad-Daylami, that he entered into Islam and there were two sisters under him (i.e., he had gathered two sisters in marriage); so the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to him: "Give divorce to whomever you wish (to leave) of the two." (Ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)


Ibn Abdi 'l-Barr has narrated in al-Istidhkar, from Ayas ibn Amir that he said: "I asked 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and said: 'I have two sisters among my slaves, with one of whom I have established sexual relations and she has borne children for me; then I am attracted to the other; now what should I do?' He said: 'You should emancipate the one you had cohabited with, then you (may) cohabit with the other.' Then he said: 'Surely, all the categories of free women forbidden to you in the Book of Allah, are also forbidden to you from among those whom your right hands possess, except the number (or he said, 'except the limit of four') and all the categories forbidden to you in the Book of Allah through kinship, are also forbidden to you through breast-feeding.' " (Ibid.)



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The author says: as-Suyuti has narrated it from 'Ali (a.s.) through other chains too.


Abu Hurayrah said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: 'A woman and her paternal aunt are not gathered together, nor are a woman and her maternal aunt.' " (As-Sahih, al-Bukhari, Muslim)


The author says: This theme is found also in some Sunni traditions narrated through other chains; but the traditions of the Imams of Ahlu ‘l-bayt (a.s.) refute it, and the Qur'an supports them.


At-Tayalisi, 'Abdu 'r-Razzaq, al-Fariyabi, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ahmad, 'Abd ibn Hamid, Muslim, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasa’i; as well as Abu Ya’1a, Ibn Jarir, Ibnu 'l-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, at-Tahawi, Ibn Hibban and al-Bayhaqi (in his as-Sunan) have narrated from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that he said: "Verily, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) sent an army, on the day of Hunayn, to Awtas. They met the enemy and defeated them after a fight and took captives. Some companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) refrained from cohabiting with them, because they had their polytheist husbands. Then Allah revealed: And all married women except those whom your right hands possess, that is, except those whom Allah has given to you as booty. So we treated them as lawful to us on that authority." (Ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


The author says: The same book narrates it through at-Tabarani from Ibn 'Abbas.



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'Abd ibn Hamid has narrated from Ikrimah: "This verse in the chapter of 'The Women', i.e.: And all married women except those whom your right hands possess, was revealed about a woman, called Ma'adhah, who was married to an old man of Banu Sadus, named Shuja' ibn al-Harith. There was his other wife with her, who had borne to him children, [now grown-up] men. Shuja' went to Hajar to get provisions for his family. In the meantime, a cousin of Ma'adhah passed from there, and she said to him: 'Take me away to my people, because there is no good with this old man.' So he carried her away with him. (Their departure almost) coincided with the old man's arrival. He went to the Messenger of Allah (s.a. w.a.) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, and the most excellent of the Arabs! I had gone out in [the month of] Rajab to get provisions for her; and she fled away; and she is the worst dominator for anyone who is dominated; she saw a boy sitting on the hump; there is a desire in her and in him.' The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: 'Bring (them) to me! Bring (them) to me! If the man has opened her cloth (i.e., committed adultery with her), then stone her; otherwise, return to the old man his wife.' So Malik, son of Shuja' from the other wife, went out in pursuit and brought her back and she came down to her house." (Ibid.)


The author says: It has repeatedly been mentioned that such stories purporting to describe the occasion when a verse was revealed - and especially those dealing with some parts or clauses of a verse - are merely the attempts of the narrators to fit some events to some verses or sentences; they do not give the real reasons of revelation.


As-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about the word of Allah, And all al­muhsanat women: He said: "It means those who are married." Then he was asked about the words, and al-muhsanat  from among those who have been given the Book before you [ 5:51] ; he said: "The chaste women." (Man la yahduruhu 'l-faqih)


The author says: Al-'Ayyashi too has narrated it from the same Imam (a.s.).


At-Tabrisi has explained the words, And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means, as "whoever among you does not have riches"; and according to him it is narrated from Abu Ja'far (a.s.).

(Majma'u 'l-bayan)



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As-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Today a free man should not marry a slave girl. It was (allowed) as Allah has said, And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means; and ampleness of means refers to dowry, but today the dowry of a free woman is (just like) the dowry of a slave girl or even less." (Al-Kafi)


The author says: Wealth and riches is one connotation of ‘ampleness of means’, as was explained earlier. The tradition does not show more than undesirability of such marriages.


Abu 'l-'Abbas al-Baqbaq has said: "I said to Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.): 'Can a man marry a slave girl without the permission of her people?' He said: 'It is fornication. Surely Allah says: so marry them with the permission of their people.' " (At-Tahdhib)


Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Nasr says: "I asked ar-Rida (a.s.): 'Can Mutah be done with a slave girl with the permission of her people?' He said: 'Yes. Surely Allah, the Mighty, the Great, says: so marry them with the permission of their people.’” (Ibid.)


Muhammad ibn Muslim says narrating from one of the two Imams (a.s.): "I asked him about the word of Allah regarding the slave girls, and when they are taken in marriage - 'What was the connotation of al-ihsan here?' He said: 'Consummation of marriage.' I said: 'Then if the marriage is not consummated, there is no [fixed] punishment prescribed for them?' He said: 'Certainly.' " (At-Tafsir, al-'Ayyashi)


Hariz said: "I asked him about al-muhsin. He said: 'He who has that which suffices him.' " (Ibid.)


Muhammad ibn Qays narrates from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) that he said: "The Leader of the faithful (a.s.) used to sentence slave men and women, if any of them committed fornication, to be flogged fifty stripes - whether he/she be a Muslim or unbeliever or Christian; and he/she was not to be stoned or banished." (Al-Kafi)


Abu Bakr al-Hadrami narrates that Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) said about a slave who defamed a free man [of fornication]: "He shall be flogged eighty stripes; it is among the rights of the people; as concerning that which is among the rights of Allah, the Mighty, the Great, he shall be given half of the prescribed punishment." "I said: 'What are the things among the rights of Allah, the Mighty, the Great? " He said: 'When he fornicates or drinks liquor; it is among those rights for which he shall be given half of the punishment. ' " (Ibid.)



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Barid al-'Ijli narrates from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) that he said about a slave girl who commits fornication: "She shall be given half the prescribed punishment, no matter whether she has a husband or not." (at Tahdhib)


Ibn Jarir has narrated from Ibn `Abbas that he said: "al-Musafihat refers to those who commit fornication openly; and muttakhidhat akhdan to those who have only one paramour." Also he said: “The people of the (era of) ignorance considered fornication unlawful if it was done openly; but what remained concealed was treated as lawful. They used to say: 'What becomes known is ignoble, but there is no blame in that which remains secret.' Then Allah revealed: and do not draw near to indecencies, those of them which are apparent, and those which are concealed.” [6:151], (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


The author says: There are numerous traditions on the themes described above; but we have quoted only a few of them as samples.







Abu Basir says: "I asked Abu Ja'far (a.s.) about the Mutah. He said: 'It has been revealed in the Qur’an : Then as to 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.’” (Al-Kafi)


Ibn Abu 'Umayr narrates through his narrator from Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) that he said: "It was revealed (as follows): Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah - for a fixed period - give them their dowries as appointed.” (Ibid.)



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The author says: This recital has been narrated by al-'Ayyashi from Abu Ja'far (a.s.); also the Sunnis have narrated it by various chains from Ubayy ibn Ka'b and 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas, as will be described below. Probably, such traditions aim at describing the intended meaning of the verse, rather than asserting that the actual revelation contained these words.


Zurarah said: " 'Abdullah ibn 'Umayr al-Laythi came to Abu Ja'far (a.s.) and asked: 'What do you say about Mutah with Women?' He replied: 'Allah has made it lawful in His Book and on the tongue of His Prophet; therefore, it is lawful upto the Day of Resurrection.' He said: 'O Abu Ja'far! (a person) like you says this while 'Umar had prohibited and  made it unlawful?' He said: 'Even if he did so.' Then (al-Laythi) said: 'I seek Allah's protection for you that you should consider a thing lawful which 'Umar had made unlawful.'


Zurarah says: "Then the Imam said to him: 'Well, you adhere to the 'word of your companion, while I am on the word of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). Well, come on, let me utter imprecations against you that the (right) word is that which the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had said, and that false is that which your companion had uttered.' Thereupon 'Abdulluh ibn 'Umayr turned to him and said: 'Would you like it if your women, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your cousins did it?' " Zurarah says: " 'Then Abu Ja'far (a.s.) turned away from him when he mentioned his women and cousins." (Ibid.)


Abu Maryam narrates that Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) said: "As for the Mutah, the Qur’an was revealed for it (i.e., the Qur'an allowed it), and the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) put it in force." (Ibid.)


'Abdu 'r-Rahman ibn Abi 'Abdilldh said: "I heard Abu Hanifah asking Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) about Mutah. (The Imam, a.s.) said: 'About which Mutah you are asking?' He said: 'I have already asked you about the Mutah of hajj [i.e., hajju 't-tamattu']; now tell me about the Mutah of women, is it right?' Then (the Imam, a.s.) said: 'Allah be praised! Have you not read the Book of Allah: Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah, give them their dowries as appointed?' He said: "By Allah! (It seemed as if) it was a verse I had never read.'” (ibid.)



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Muhammad ibn Muslim narrates from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) that he said: "Jabir ibn 'Abdillah has narrated from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) that they [i.e., the Muslims] went on an expedition with him [the Holy Prophet], and he made Mutah lawful for them and (then) did not prohibit it; and 'Ali used to say: 'Had not the son of Khattab, (i.e., 'Umar) gone ahead of me in this matter [i.e., had he not forbidden it before I came to power], none would have committed fornication except a scoundrel' [vii]; and Ibn 'Abbas used to say: 'Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah – for  a fixed period – give them their dowries as appointed; and these people deny it, while the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had allowed it and not forbidden it.' " (At-Tafsir, al-'Ayyashi)


Abu Basir narrates from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) that he said about Mutah: "The verse was revealed; then as to 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." Then he said: "There is no blame if you increase her (dowry) and she increases your (period), when the period (fixed) between you two expires. You may say, with her consent, ‘I make you lawful for me for another (fixed) period.' But she is not lawful for other than you until her waiting period expires; and her waiting period is two monthly courses." (Ibid.)


Ash- Shaybani narrates from Abu Ja'far and Abu 'Abdillah (a.s.) that they said regarding the verse, and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed: "It means that he increases her dowry or she increases his (fixed) period."


The author says: There are mutawatir or nearly mutawatir traditions narrated from the Imams of Ahlu 'l-bayt on the above themes; but we have quoted only a few of them. Anyone wanting to study the lot should refer to the collections of traditions.



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Traditions on the Recitation: "For a Fixed Period"


Ibn Abi Hatim has narrated from Ibn 'Abbas, that he said: "The Mutah of women was in the beginning of Islam. A man used to arrive at a town; there was none with him to mend his things or to look after his property. Therefore, he married a woman for as long as he thought his work (there) would last; and she looked after his property and mended his things." And he [Ibn `Abbas] used to recite: "Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah - for a fixed period.” "It was abrogated by the words: with chastity, not committing fornication. [viii] And marriage-tie was in the hand of man, he kept (her) as long as he wished, and let (her) go when he wished." (Ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)


Al-Hakim narrates through his chains from Abu Nadrah, that he said: 'I recited before Ibn 'Abbas, Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah, give them their dowries as appointed; Ibn Abbas said: 'Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah - for a fixed period.' I said: "We do not read it like that.' Ibn 'Abbas said: 'By Allah! Allah had revealed it like that.'



The author says: This tradition has also been narrated in ad­-Durru ‘l-manthur from al-Hakim, Abd ibn Hamid, Ibn Jarir and Ibnu 'I-Anbari (in al-Masahif).


Abd ibn Hamid and Ibn Jarir have narrated from Qatadah that he said: “Ubayy ibn Ka'b used to recite: Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah - for a fixed period." (Ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


Muhammad ibn Ka’b narrates from Ibn `Abbas that he said: "The Mutah was in the beginning of Islam. A man used to arrive at a town which he did not know. So, he married a woman for as long as he thought he would stay there; so she looked after his property and mended his things. (It continued) until the verse was revealed: ... except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess" [23:6] ; Ibn 'Abbas said: "Now every woman except these two (categories) is unlawful.' " (As-Sahih, at-Tirmidhi)


The author says: It implies that the Mutah was abrogated in Mecca [before hijrah] , because the purportedly abrogating verse is of Meccan period!  




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‘Abdullah ibn Abi Malikah says: " I asked 'A'ishah (r.a.) about the Mutah of women. She said: 'The Book of Allah is between me and you.' Then she recited: And who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable, [23:5-6] ; but whoever seeks to go beyond what Allah has given in his marriage or in his possession, he surely exceeds the limit." [ix]


Some Traditions showing that the Mutah was abrogated by the Qur’an


Abu Dawud (in his an-Nasikh), Ibnu 'I-Mundhir and an-Nahhas have narrated from Ibn 'Abbas that the verses, Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah, give them their dowries as appointed, was abrogated by the verses, 0 Prophet! when you divorce them for their prescribed time [65:11] ; And the divorced women should  keep themselves in waiting for three monthly courses [2:228]; And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months [65:4] (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


Abu Dawud (in his an-Nasikh), Ibnu'I-Mundhir, an-Nahhas and al-Bayhaqi have narrated from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab that he said: "The verse of inheritance has abrogated the Mutah." (ibid.)


'Abdu 'r-Razzaq and Ibnu 'I-Mundhir have narrated from 'Ali, that he said: " Ramadan abrogated every (other) fast; and az-zakat abrogated every (other) alms; and Mutah was abrogated by divorce, waiting period and inheritance; and the sacrifice (of hajj) abrogated every (other) slaughter." (ibid.)




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Some Traditions showing that the Mutah was abrogated by the Sunnah


`Abdu 'r-Razzaq, Ahmad and Muslim have narrated from Sabrah al-Juhani that he said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) allowed us, in the year of the Conquest of Mecca, to marry women in Mutah. So I went out with a man of my tribe; I was his better in beauty while he was almost ugly. Each of us had a garment; my garment was worn and shabby, while my cousin's was brand new and fresh. When we reached upper region of Mecca, a girl came before us - like a beautiful young she-camel. We said (to her): 'Do you agree that one of us should marry you in Mutah?' She said: 'And what will you pay?' So each of us spread his garment. She kept looking at two of us. When my companion saw her (hesitation), he said: 'Surely, his garment is old and worn; and my garment is new and fresh.' She kept replying: 'Even his garment is not bad.' So, I did Mutah with her. We had not even departed from Mecca when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) prohibited it." (ibid.)


Malik,'Abdu 'r-Razzaq, Ibn Abi Shaybah, al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah have narrated from 'Ali ibn Abi Talib: 'Verily, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) forbade the Mutah of women on the day of Khaybar; and (the same day, prohibited) eating the flesh of domesticated donkeys." (ibid.)


Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ahmad and Muslim have narrated from Salamah ibn al-Akwa' that he said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) allowed us to do Mutah with women, in the year of Awtas for three days, then he forbade it." (ibid.)


Ibnu 'l-'Arabi writes in his Commentary of Sahih at Tirmidhi:

“Ismail narrates from his father, from az-Zuhri, that Sabrah said that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) prohibited it in the Last Pilgrimage. It has been narrated by Abu Dawud, . . . and it has been narrated by `Abdu 'l-'Aziz ibn 'Umar ibn 'Abdi 'l-'Aziz from ar-Rabi ‘ibn Sabrah from his father, in which he says that it was in the Last Pilgrimage, after it was allowed, and that it was [marriage] for a fixed period; and al-Hasan has said that it was (forbidden) in the 'Umrah of  al-Qada’.”


The same book narrates from az-Zuhri that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) forbade Mutah in the expedition of Tabuk. 



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The author says: As you see, the traditions contradict each other in identifying the time when the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) prohibited the Mutah. Some say it was prior to hijrah; others that it was after hijrah. A group says it was abrogated by the verses of marriage, divorce, waiting period and inheritance, while others claim that it was prohibited by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the battle of Khaybar [Rajab, 7 AH], or at the 'Umrah of al-Qada’ [end of 7 AH], or in the year of Awtas or the Conquest of Mecca [8 AH], or the year of Tabuk [9 AH], or after the Last Pilgrimage [end of 10 AH]. That is why the Sunni scholars say that it was prohibited several times, and each of the above traditions describes one or the other of the occasions. But some of the narrators, like 'Ali, Jabir and Ibn Mas'ud, were too great to remain unaware of the Prophet's orders - especially when we remember that they were constantly with him (s.a.w.a.) and knew every big and small matter of his life. [x]


al-Bayhaqi narrates from 'Ali (a.s.) that he said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) forbade Mutah. It was only for him who did not get [means for permanent marriage] ; but when (verses of) marriage, divorce, waiting period and mutual inheritance (rights) of husband and wife were revealed, it was abrogated." (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


an-Na'hhas has narrated that 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said to Ibn 'Abbas: "Surely, you are a straying man; verily, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had forbidden Mutah." (ibid.)


al-Bayhaqi narrates from Abu Dharr that he said: "The Mutah was allowed for the companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) only for three days; then the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) forbade it.” (ibid.)  



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Abu Jamrah says that Ibn 'Abbas was asked about Mutah, and he allowed it. Thereupon a slave of his said to him: "Surely it was (allowed) when the number of women was small and the condition was hard." Ibn Abbas said: "Yes. (as-Sahih, al-Bukhari)


al-Bayhaqi has narrated that 'Umar delivered a lecture in which he said: "How is it that some men marry (in) this Mutah form, and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had forbidden it? None will be brought before me who had married (in) this (form) but I shall stone him.” (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ahmad and Muslim have narrated from Sabrah that he said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) standing between the Rukn and the door [of the Ka'bah] , and he was saying: 'O people! I had allowed you to marry in Mutah form; well, Allah has prohibited it upto the Day of Resurrection. Now, if anyone has got any (woman) from them, he should let her go, but do not take back anything from what you have given them.’ ” (ibid.)


Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from al-Hasan that he said. "By Allah! Mutah was not but only three days, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had permitted them in that (period); it was not before that, nor after that." (ibid.)



Some Traditions of some Companions and their Disciples about Lawfulness of the Mutah


Mujahid has said about (the verse), then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah: "It is the Mutah marriage." (at-Tafsir, at-Tabari)


as- Suddi said about this verse: "It is Mutah; a man marries a woman on the condition of a fixed period; and when the term expires, he has no authority on her and she is free of him; but she is obliged [to observe the waiting period to be sure of what is in her womb; and there is no inheritance between them, neither will inherit the other." (ibid.)



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It is narrated in as-Sahih, al-Bukhari and as-Sahih, Muslim, and reported in ad-Durru ‘l-manthur from Abdu 'r-Razzaq and Ibn Abl Shaybah, from Ibn Mas'ud that he said: "We used to go on expeditions with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), and our women were not with us. So we said: 'Should not we castrate ourselves?' But (the Prophet) forbade us to do so; and allowed us to marry a woman on (dowry of) a garment for a (fixed) period." Then 'Abdullah recited: O you who believe! do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you [5:87].


Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from Nafi' that Ibn 'Umar was asked about Mutah, and he said that it was unlawful. It was said to him: "Verily, Ibn 'Abbas declares it as lawful." He said: "Why did not he open his mouth in the reign of 'Umar?" (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


Ibnu ’l-Mundhir, at-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi have narrated from Sa ‘id ibn Jubayr that he said: "I said to Ibn 'Abbas: 'What have you done? Travelers have carried your ruling (far and wide), and poets have composed poems about it.' He said: 'And what have they said?' I said: 'They have said:


"I say to the old man, as he has stayed a long time,

O my companion! Are you interested in the ruling of Ibn Abbas?

Would you like to have a chubby unmarried girl?

Who would be your resting place, until the people depart [from here]." '


(Ibn 'Abbas) said: 'Surely, we are Allah's, and to Him we shall surely return. No, By Allah! I have not given this ruling, nor is this which I have meant. I have not allowed it but to one who is hard-pressed; and I have not allowed of it except what Allah has allowed of dead body, blood and flesh of swine.' " (ibid.)


Ibnu 'l-Mundhir narrates from 'Ammar (slave of ash-Sharid) that he said: "I asked Ibn 'Abbas regarding the Mutah, whether it is marriage or fornication. He said: 'Neither marriage nor fornication.' I said: 'Then what is it?' He said: 'It is Mutah, as Allah has said.' I said: 'Does it have a waiting period?' He said: 'Its waiting period is one monthly course.' I said: 'Do they inherit each other?' He said: 'No.' " (ibid.)



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'Abdu 'r-Razzaq and Ibnu 'l-Mundhir have narrated through 'Ata' from Ibn 'Abbas that he said: "May Allah have mercy on ' Umar. Mutah was but a mercy from Allah, which He had bestowed on the ummah of Muhammad. If he ('Umar) had not forbidden it, none but the most wicked would have needed fornication." Also he said: "It is that which is in the chapter of 'The Women': Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah to such and such a period on such and such a dowry." Again he said: "There is no inheritance between them. If they decide to agree after the term [to extend it], then, yes; and if they separate, then, yes; and there is no [permanent] marriage between them." 'Ata' said that he heard from Ibn `Abbas that in his opinion it was lawful (even) now. (Ibid.)


It is narrated in at-Tafsir, at-Tabari and also in ad-Durru ’l-­manthur from 'Abdu 'r-Razzaq and Abu Dawud (in his an-Nisikh) from al-Hakam that he was asked about this verse [of Mutah] whether it was abrogated. He said: "No." Also 'Ali (a.s.) has said: “If  'Umar had not forbidden Mutah, none but a scoundrel would have committed fornication."


Some Traditions showing that it was 'Umar who had forbidden the Mutah


Jabir ibn `Abdillah said: "We used to do Mutah on a handful of date and flour, for fixed days, in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and Abu Bakr - until 'Umar disallowed it in the affair of 'Amr ibn Hurayth." (as-Sahih, Muslim)


The author says: This tradition has also been quoted in Jami 'u 'l-usul ( of Ibnu 'l-Athir), Zadu 'l-ma‘ad (of Ibnu 'l-Qayyim), Fathu 'l-bari (of  Ibn Hajar) and Kanzu 'l-'ummal.


Malik and `Abdu 'r-Razzaq have narrated from 'Urwah ibn az-Zubayr that Khawlah bint Hakim came to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab and said: "Rabi ‘ah ibn Umayyah had done Mutah with a woman of not pure Arab blood, and she had become pregnant from him." [Hearing this] 'Umar ibn al-Khattab came out, trailing his robe in dismay, and said: "This is Mutah! Had I gone ahead about it [i.e., Had I forbidden it before] , I would have stoned (the person concerned)." (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)


The author says: It has also been reported from ash-Shafi'i (in his Kitab 'l-umm) and from al-Bayhaqi (in his as-Sunan). 



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Sulayman ibn Yasar narrates from Umm Abdillah, daughter of Abu Khaythamah, that a man came from Syria and stayed with her. Then he said: "Verily, bachelorhood has become hard for me to bear; therefore, find for me a woman with whom I should do Mutah." She says: "So, I led him to a woman and he made conditions with her, and got men of probity as witnesses for it. He remained with her as long as Allah wished him to; and then he went away. Then 'Umar was informed of it. He called for me and asked: 'Is it correct what I have been told?' I said: 'Yes.' He said: 'If he comes (back), let me know.' When he came back, I informed 'Umar; and he called for him and asked: 'What made you to do what you did?' He said: 'I did so in the days of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and he did not forbid us to do so until Allah took him (to Himself); then (we did it) in the days of Abu Bakr, and he too did not forbid us to do so, until Allah took him away; then (we did so) during your days and you did not issue to us any prohibition against it.' Then 'Umar said: 'Well, by Him in Whose hand my soul is, if I had gone ahead with its prohibition, I would have stoned you; announce it, in order that marriage might be distinguished from fornication.' " (Kanzu '1-'ummal)


'Ata’ has said: "Jabir ibn 'Abdillah came for 'umrah; so we went to him at his staying place, and people asked him regarding various things, then they mentioned Mutah. He said: 'We did Mutah in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and Abu Bakr and 'Umar.' " Ahmad's narration adds: "until it was the last period of 'Umar's (r.a.) caliphate." (as-Sahih, Muslim; Musnad, Ahmad)


Nafi' reports that Abdullah ibn 'Umar was asked about Mutah and he said: "(It is) forbidden. Why, look, if 'Umar ibn al-Khattab had caught anyone doing it, he would have stoned him."' (as-Sunan, al-Bayhaqi)


Ibnu 'l-Jawzi says: " 'Umar (r.a.) used to say: 'By Allah! Nobody will be brought before me, (accused of) practising Mutah, but I shall stone him." (Mir'atu 'z-zaman)



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Ibn Rushd narrates from Jabir ibn 'Abdillah that he said: "We did Mutah in the days of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), and Abu Bakr, and during half the reign of 'Umar; then 'Umar forbade people to do so.” (Bidayatu 'l-mujtahid)


Ibn al-Kalbi has said: 'Verily, Salamah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf al-Jumahi did Mutah with Salma, slave girl of Hakim ibn Umayyah ibn al-Awqas al-Aslami, and she bore from him a child, but he denied (paternity of) her child. This news reached 'Umar; therefore he forbade Mutah. (al-Isabah)


Ayyub says: "'Urwah said to Ibn 'Abbas: 'Do you not fear Allah, that you allow Mutah? Ibn 'Abbas said: 'Ask your mother, O 'Urwah!' Then 'Urwah said: 'But Abu Bakr and 'Umar did not do it!' Thereupon, Ibn 'Abbas said: 'By Allah! I do not think you will stop (in your arrogance) until Allah chastises you. We talk to you from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and you talk to us from Abu Bakr and 'Umar.' " (Zadu ’l-ma‘ad)


The author says: The mother of 'Urwah [mentioned in the above tradition] was Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, who was married in Mutah form by az-Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam, from whom she bore Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and 'Urwah.


ar-Raghib writes: "Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr reproached 'Abdullah ibn `Abbas because the latter considered Mutah as lawful. 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas told him: 'Ask your mother how the censers glowed between her and your father?' So he asked her and she replied: 'I did not give birth to you but in Mutah’ ”(al-Muhadarat)


Muslim al-Quriyy says: 'I asked Ibn 'Abbas about Mutah; and he allowed it; but Ibn az-Zubayr used to reject it. So (Ibn Abbas ) said: 'This is the mother of Ibn az-Zubayr, who narrates that the Messenger of Allah had allowed it; so go to her and ask her.' " Muslim says: "So we went to her and, lo! she was a stout blind woman. She said: 'The Messenger of Allah has allowed it.’ ”

(as-Sahih, Muslim)


The author says: The context shows that the question was about the Mutah of women; and other traditions too give the same meaning.



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Abu Nadrah said: 'I was with Jabir ibn Abdillah when someone came to him and said: 'Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn az-Zubayr have differed about the two Mutahs [i.e., Mutatu 'l-hajj and Mutah of women].' Jabir said: 'We did both with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), then 'Umar forbade us both, but we did not deviate from them.’ ” (as-Sahih, Muslim)


The author says: Reportedly al-Bayhaqi too has narrated it in his as-Sunan; and the same theme has been narrated in as-Sahih of Muslim, in three places with different wordings, one of which reports Jabir as saying: "But when 'Umar stood up [i.e., came to power], he said: 'Surely Allah used to allow for His Messenger whatever He wished in any way He wished. Therefore, you complete the hajj and the 'umrah, as Allah has ordered, and stop marrying these women. No man shall be brought to me who would have married a woman for a [fixed] period but I shall stone him.’ ”


Also this theme has been narrated by al-Bayhaqi in his as­Sunan and al-Jassas in his Ahkamu 'l-Quran; also it is reported in Kanzu 'l-'ummal and ad-Durru 'l-manthur, as well as in at-Tafsir of ar-Razi and Musnad of at-Tayalisi.


al-Qurtubi has narrated, in his at-Tafsir, from 'Umar that he said in his lecture: "Two Mutahs were [practised] in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.); but I forbid them and shall inflict punishment on them; the Mutah of hajj and the Mutah of women."


The author says: This lecture of his is among the things unanimously accepted by all narrators; and they have reported it as an undisputed fact. Vide, for example, at-Tafsir of ar-Razi, al-Bayan wa 't-tab'in, Zadu 'l-ma ‘ad, Ahkamu 'l-Qur’an, [at-Tarikh of] at­-Tabari and of Ibn 'Asakir among other references.


at-Tabari has narrated from 'Umar that he said: "There were three things in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.); but I am forbidding them; and shall give punishment on them: Mutah of hajj, and Mutah of women, and hayya 'ala khayri ’l-'amal in the adhan (call for prayer)." (al-Mustabin)



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'Imran ibn Sawdah says: " I prayed dawn (prayer) with 'Umar; he recited (the chapter of) Subhan and another one with it; then he returned and I stood with him. He said: '(Do you have) any work (with me)?' I said: '(Yes,) there is (some) work.' He said: 'Then join (me).' I joined him. When he entered (his house), he gave permission to me. I found him on a bare bed-stead which had nothing on it. I said: '(I have come with) a sincere advice.' He said: 'Welcome to the adviser, day and night.' I said: 'Your people blame (you) for four things.' (Hearing this) he put the handle of his whip under his chin and its tip on his thigh, and said: 'Let me hear it.' I said: 'They say that you have prohibited ‘umrah during the months of hajj, while neither the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) nor Abu Bakr (r.a.) had done so, and it is lawful (in shari'ah). He said: 'Is it lawful? If they do 'umrah during the months of hajj, they will think it suffices them from hajj; and will go out at once like a chick from it shell; and the hajj (days) will be empty (of people), while it is a splendour from Allah's splendours; and I have done right.'


"I said: 'Also they say that you have prohibited the Mutah of women, while it was a permission from Allah. We used to do, Mutah on a handful [of date, etc.] and separate after three (days).’ He said: 'Surely, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had allowed it at a time when there was need (of it), then the people did get affluence; thereafter, I do not know any Muslim who did it or resorted to it. Now let anyone who so wishes marry [permanently] on a handful [of date] and separate the third day by divorce; and I have done right.'


"Then I said: 'You have granted freedom to a slave girl if she delivers a child, even without being emancipated by her master.' He said: 'I have joined honour with honour; and I did not mean but good; and I ask pardon of Allah.'


"I said: 'And they complain against your reviling the public and your harsh demeanour.' (Hearing this,) he drew the whip and wiped it until he came to its end, then said: ‘I am a traveling-companion of Muhammad and was his traveling-companion in the expedition of Qarqaratu, ‘l-Kidr. By Allah! I put (animals) to pasture until I satiate, and I give (them) drink until I quench their thirst; I hit the unruly camel and restrain the untamed one; and I defend my cooking-pot and drive my steps; and gather obdurate ones, and join slow ones; and I often admonish but seldom strike; and make a show of whip but repulse by hand. (Even) if it had not been so, I would have had an excuse.’ ”



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(‘Imran) said: "This narrative reached Mu'awiyah, and he said: 'He was, by Allah, knowledgeable of his subjects.' " (at-Tarikh, at-Tabari)


The author says: Ibn Abi 'l-Hadid has narrated it in his Sharh Nahji 'l-balaghah from Ibn Qutaybah.  

These are some of the traditions regarding the topic of Mutah of women.


A discerning scholar, looking at them, cannot fail to see:-


First: The contradictions and irreconcilability so glaringly found in them. The scholar cannot reach at any conclusion from them except that it was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab who, during his reign, forbade and prohibited it because of his personal opinion, which he formed after hearing the stories of 'Amr ibn Hurayth and Rabi ‘ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf al-Jumahi. As for the claim of its abrogation by the Qur’an or tradition, you have already seen that it has no leg to stand on. It is quite apart from the fact that whatever stand one takes, some traditions contradict the others. The only point of agreement is that it was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab who prohibited it and enforced his prohibition, who decided that the action was forbidden and laid down the punishment of stoning for him who did it.


Second: That it was a custom that was prevalent in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) by his permission; it makes no difference whether he had established that custom, or had let an old custom continue. Also that it was practised by such of his companions who cannot be accused of fornication, by any stretch of imagination. For instance, Jabir ibn 'Abdillah, 'Abdullah ibn Mas ‘ud, az­Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam and Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, who had given birth to 'Abdullah, son of az-Zubayr through this very Mutah marriage.



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Third: That there were among the companions and their disciples, people who continued to believe and declare that Mutah was lawful, like Ibn Mas'ud, Jabir, ‘Amr ibn Hurayth and others (among the companions); and Mujahid, as-Suddi, Sa'id ibn Jubayr and others [among the disciples].


This open and clear conflict among the traditions has led the Sunni scholars, first to disagree among themselves whether Mutah was lawful or unlawful, and then compelled the protagonists of prohibition to opt for diverse opinions as to how it was prohibited. In all, they have adopted not less than fifteen views - each different from the others and all amazing.


One may discuss this topic from many angles, but we are concerned here with some of them only. There is a sectarian polemic going on between the Sunnis and the Shi‘ahs. There is a jurisprudential aspect, whether Mutah is lawful or not. Lastly, there is the exegetical angle, dealing with the exegesis of the verse: Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah ... : Does it ordain the lawfulness of the Mutah? If yes, then was it abrogated by any other verse, like that of the chapter 23 (The Believers) or those of marriage, prohibition, divorce, waiting period or inheritance? Or was it abrogated by the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? Also, if it was legalized, had Islam initiated a new system? Or had it just confirmed an old custom? And so on and so forth.


It is this third aspect, i.e., exegetical, that we shall discuss in this book. We have already explained these matters in the Commentary; but here we shall give some more details, by drawing the readers' attention to what has been said [by some non-Shi'ahs] against the verse's implication regarding the Mutah marriage and its legislation.


An Exegete's Claims and our Comments


A writer, after insisting that the verse only implies that one should pay dowry in full in permanent marriage, expresses his views as follows:        


"The Shi‘ahs say that the verse refers to the Mutah marriage, i.e., marrying a woman for a fixed term, e.g., one day, one week or one month. They argue by an irregular recital of the Qur’an which is narrated from Ubayy, Ibn Mas'ud and Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them), and by the reports and traditions that have been narrated about Mutah.



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"As for the recital, it is irregular, which is not proved to be [a part of] the Qur’an. It has been explained earlier that if there are correct traditions as khabaru ’l-wahid in such matters, then the added words are treated as explanation; and it shows what the man concerned had understood [from the verse] ; but understanding of a companion is not a proof in matters of religion, especially when the sequence and context [of the verse] rejects it - as it does here. Because the man who marries in Mutah for a fixed term does not intend chastity instead of fornication; rather his first intention is sexual satisfaction. Therefore, even if there is a sort of chastity for man (as it prevents him from free indulgence in fornication), there is surely nothing of chastity for the woman who hires out her body every now and then to a new man; she becomes, as has been said:  

A ball that is struck by bats

And is dealt with by man after man."


COMMENT: He claims that the Shi'ahs argue by a recital of Ibn Mas'ud and others. But anyone who refers to the Shi‘ah books and arguments will see that, when they mention that recital, they do not do so because they think it to be a reliable and independent proof in itself. How can they do so when they do not accept the authoritativeness of irregular recitals, even if they are attributed to their own Imams? How can they argue by something they do not accept as authoritative against someone who does not accept its authority? Such an idea is nothing but a joke.


The Shi‘ahs actual argument is this: Those companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to recite the verse in that way. It means that they believed it to be the verse's connotation. It is irrelevant whether they recited it as a part of the Qur’an, or just as its explanation which showed that they had understood this meaning from the wordings of the verse.


This argument is useful to the Shi'ahs in two ways:



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First: It shows that a number of the companions believed as the Shi‘ahs do. As the reports show, a number of the companions and their disciples believed in the lawfulness of the Mutah, and if one wants to verify it, one is free to consult the relevant books.


Second: It proves that the verse means exactly what the Shi‘ahs say, and the recital of those companions supports it. Not only that. Even the claim that the verse was later abrogated, clearly shows that the claimants accepted that the verse proved the lawfulness of the Mutah marriage; otherwise, there was no need for them to say that it was abrogated or to narrate traditions of its abrogation. There are a lot of such traditions, a number of which was quoted above. The Shi ‘ahs make use even of the traditions of abrogation in the same way as they do with the above-mentioned irregular recital. It does not mean that they accept authority of irregular recital, as it does not mean that they accept the verse's abrogation. What they want to prove is that those reciters and narrators believed that the verse spoke about the lawfulness of the Mutah marriage.


As for the claim that the context of the verse does not agree with this meaning, his whole argument seems to be based on the assumption that the verb, al-musafahah ( = fornication) has been used in this verse in its literal sense, i.e., ejaculation of semen, and then he links this meaning with its intention. Thus he claims that the temporary marriage for satisfaction of sexual desire is as-sifah ( = fornication), and not an-nikah ( = marriage). He seems unaware of the fact that even an-nikah literally means sexual intercourse. It is written in Lisanu ’l-‘Arab: "al-Azhari says: 'The basic meaning of an-nikah in Arabic is to have sexual intercourse.' " Therefore, it will be necessary for him to say that even an-nikah was fornication! Thus, his supposed contraposition between an-nikah and as-sifah loses its bearing.


Moreover, if the intention of satisfying sexual urge turns the temporary marriage into fornication, then what if someone marries permanently with the same intention? Surely that permanent marriage too must turn into fornication. But is there any Muslim prepared to say so?


May be someone will say: There is a difference between permanent and temporary marriages. The permanent marriage by its very nature is meant to maintain chastity, procreate children and establish a household. But it is not so in a temporary marriage.



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But it is just superciliousness. All the benefits attributed to the permanent marriage are obtainable from the temporary one; protects from fornication, saves the genealogy from mix-up; children may be born and cared for, and a house-hold may be established. That is apart from the added benefit which this ummah could derive from it because it is much more easier to do; and even he who because of various reasons (poverty, inability to maintain a wife permanently, being on a journey or other such reasons) is unable to marry permanently, may utilize this permission and save himself from sin.


On the other hand, all presumed defects of the temporary marriage - which have led him to say that Mutah was fornication - may be found in the permanent marriage too, like the intention of satisfying sexual desire by ejaculating semen in the woman. Therefore, the claim that permanent marriage was made in its very nature for the claimed benefits, while temporary marriage was made in its very nature for the supposed defects, is just a claim that is not supported by any evidence and whose incorrectness is crystal clear.


Another claim: Mutah marriage is as-sifah (ejaculation); therefore it is fornication that is opposite of marriage. But when you interpret as-sifah as ejaculation of semen, then it will cover not only fornication but permanent marriage also - especially if the latter was done for satisfaction of sexual desire.


It is really amazing to read his claim that even if there is a sort of chastity for the man, there is no chastity for the woman. Would that I knew what was the difference between man and woman in this respect. How is it that a man can preserve his chastity and protect himself from fornication through the Mutah, but a woman cannot? Is it anything except foolhardiness?


Now we come to the poetry lines quoted by him. The discourse is on a serious subject, by which we are trying to discover a religious reality which has very important bearing on the life of this world and the next - no matter whether at the end Mutah is proved lawful or unlawful. What is the use of poetry in such a discourse? Poetry is just an imaginary composition; it recognizes falsehood more than it does truth; and has more affinity with error than with guidance. 



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One wonders why did he not recite these lines when discussing the above-mentioned traditions, and especially after the words of ‘Umar (in the tradition of at-Tabari quoted above): “Now let anyone who so wishes to marry [permenantly] on a handful [of date] and separate the third day by divorce.”


And who is the real target of his calumination except Allah and His Messenger who had legalized this sort of marriage, either as a new institution or by endorsement of an established custom? After all, it was undeniably a system prevelant among Muslims in the early Islam within the sight and hearing of the Prophet.


Question: The Prophet (s.a.w.a) had allowed it in exigency, because in those days the Muslims were poor, and poverty overwhelmed the ummah ; also they had to participate in expeditions, as some of the above quoted traditions imply.


Reply: Once you admit that Mutah was prevalent among the people in the early days of Islam, and that it was known by the names of Mutah marriage, or istimta‘, there is no escape from admitting that the verse shows its lawfulness; that it is an unconditional verse and no other verse or tradition has capability of abrogating it. In this background, the claim that it was somehow abrogated is nothing but a willful misinterpretation without any proof.


Let us accept [for the sake of argument] that it was allowed by the Prophet (s.a.w.a) as a matter of exigency. Now let us ask ourselves: Was the need at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) greater and more pressing than in the post-Prophetic era? Especially during the reigns of the ‘rightly guided’ caliphs, when the armies of the Muslims in their thousands were always on move to the east and the west? What was the difference between the first and second halves of the caliphate of ‘Umar in this respect? How had the exigency vanished? Were there no poor Muslims in those days? Or had they stopped going to wars or journeys, etc.? Why one type of need had justified its legislation, but other types could not?



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Compare the situation of the Muslim societies today with that of the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the first half of the “rightly-guided caliphs”. Is not the need that justified its legislation greater and more pressing now that it was in those days? Backbreaking poverty reigns over the Muslim countries, and the colonial governments and imperial powers as well as the Pharaohs who rule these places are sucking the blood of the masses, and usurping all green and dry produce of their labour.


Today licentiousness manifests itself everywhere; libertinism appears in ever-more attractive and eye-catching garb; there is ever more effective exhortation to indulge in carnality and debauchery. This trend is spreading its tentacles wider and wider; the trouble is reaching every corner of the world and infecting more and more people. Immorality, illicit sexual behaviour, is engulfing all the youths - be they students, soldiers or factory workers - and this group constitutes the majority of the human population.


Nobody can ever be in doubt about the basic needs which push these youths to fornication, homosexuality and all types of sexual aberrations. They are unable to establish and run a household; they are engaged in temporary occupations, or posted to a base for a fixed term, and it does not allow them to establish a home and marry permanently - no matter whether they are in service or studies or journey, etc. Now, how is it that these necessities could legalize Mutah marriage in the early days of Islam - when they were comparatively less prevalent and much easier to bear, but cannot make it lawful in other times even when the calamity has overwhelmed the mankind, and mischief has greatly increased?



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The said writer has further written: "'Furthermore, the Mutah goes against what has been established in the Qur’an about this subject [of marriage]. Allah, the Mighty, the Great, says praising the believers: And who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable; but whoever seeks to go beyond that, these are they that exceed the limits (23:5-7). That is, they exceed the limit of what Allah has made lawful for them, and go into what He has forbidden. These verses are not in conflict with the verse under discussion, i.e.: Then as to such of them with whom you have Mutah . . . [which he takes to mean, with whom you have cohabited] ; they are rather of the same connotation, and there is therefore no abrogation. The woman in Mutah is not a wife, who could have rights on man similar to man's rights on her, as Allah has said. It has been reported from the Shi ‘ahs that they themselves do not apply the rules of marriage on her, nor do they give her the concomitants of matrimony: They do not count her among the four wives a man is allowed to have together in marriage (if there is no danger of injustice); they rather allow him to marry in a lot of women. Likewise, they do not prescribe the punishment of stoning for a fornicator when he has a Mutah wife - because they do not count him as married; it shows their conviction that the words of Allah about those married in Mutah, taking them with chastity, not committing fornication, [which he interprets as, 'in marriage, not committing fornication'] is not applicable to him - and it is a clear contradiction in term. Also some exegetes have narrated from them that a woman of Mutah is not entitled to inheritance or maintenance; and that there is no divorce or waiting period for her. In short, the Qur'an is far away from this opinion, and there is certainly no proof, or even a quasi-proof, for it in this verse."


COMMENT: His claim, that the Mutah goes against what has been established in the Qur’an, boils down to this: First, the verses of the chapter of 'The Believers': And who guard their private parts . . . , confine the lawfulness to the wives, and a woman in Mutah is not a wife; therefore, the verses refute the lawfulness of the Mutah. Second, these verses do not permit the verse, Then as to such of them with whom . . . , to be interpreted as speaking about Mutah.


As for the claim that the verses of the chapter 'The Believers' prohibit the Mutah, he has ignored the fact that these are Meccan verses, while Mutah was prevalent even after hijrah. The question arises: When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) allowed the Mutah [after Hijrah], was he allowing what the Qur’an had prohibited? But the Qur’an itself declares that the Prophet's words were final authority of religion, so there seems to be a contradiction in terms in the Qur’an itself. Or, had his legalization abrogated the verses of [presumed] abrogation (And who guard their private parts. . .), and then the Mutah was forbidden again (either by the Qur’an or the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)), thus reviving the prohibiting verses after their death? Did this verse (of The Believers) become decisive after its abrogation? It is such an alternative which no Muslim would ever agree to, nor anyone has ever said so ; nor is it ever possible to say.



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This analysis is in itself a good proof that the woman of Mutah is a wife, that the Mutah is a marriage, and that these verses, of the chapter of 'The Believers', prove that Mutah marriage is a proper matrimonial state: Otherwise, it will follow that the said verses were abrogated by the permission the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) gave for Mutah, [but nobody would admit it]. Therefore, the said verses actually prove the lawfulness, not prohibition, of the Mutah.


Let us explain it in another way:


The verses of the chapters, 'The Believers' [23: 5–7]  and 'The Stairway' [70:29-31], i.e.: And those who guard their private parts, except before their mates . . ., are the strongest of all the verses to prove the lawfulness of the Mutah. It is agreed by all that these verses are decisive and unabrogated; and that they are of the Meccan period. Also, it is crystal clear from history and traditions that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had allowed Mutah. If the woman of Mutah was not a wife, then obviously the Prophets permission would abrogate the said verses - but they are not abrogated. The only conclusion is that the Mutah was a lawful marriage. Now that it is clear from the above that the said verses prove lawfulness of the Mutah, then the claim, that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) [subsequently] prohibited it, is also proved wrong, because such claim goes contrary to the Qur’anic verses and would entail the verses' abrogation; but, as you know, all are agreed that these are decisive ones and were never abrogated.


In any case, the woman married in Mutah is a wife, and Mutah is a Nikah (marriage), contrary to what its detractors claim. It is enough, in this respect, to draw your attention to the traditions quoted above, in which the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and their disciples have used the name, 'Mutah marriage', for this union. Even 'Umar ibn al-Khattab has used the same name in the traditions which describe his prohibition; for example, see the report of al-Bayhaqi narrated from 'Umar (quoting his lecture), and the tradition of Muslim narrated from Abu Nadrah.



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Not only that. Even 'Umar's words (quoted in the tradition of Kanzu l­'ummal from Sulayman ibn Yasar), "announce it, in order that marriage may be distinguished from fornication", are based on the same nomenclature; as it implies that the Mutah is a marriage but is not distinguished from fornication; therefore it is incumbent upon Muslims to announce it; they should solemnize a marriage that is known and distinguishable from fornication. This connotation is inferred from his order to 'announce it'.


In short, there is no room for any doubt that, according to the language of the Qur’an and that of the companions and their disciples, Mutah is Nikah (marriage) and the woman so married is wife.

It was only after 'Umar's prohibition that the two words, an-nikah and at-tazwij ( = marriage), became [gradually] reserved for the permanent marriage, because Mutah marriage went out of practice, and the people performed permanent marriage only. Thus there remained no other application for the two words, and the permanent marriage became the only meaning that immediately came to the minds. The case of the two words is not different from many other words that have acquired a new or restricted meaning in the language of the Muslims.


The above also shows baselessness of what the said writer has written later that the Shi ‘ahs themselves do not apply the rules of marriage on the woman of Mutah. We have a right to ask him what he means by the word, 'wife'. If he uses the word as it is used in the language of the Qur’an, then the Shi ‘ahs apply all its rules on the Mutah wife - without any exception. But if he means the wife as is understood in the language of the Muslims - as explained above - which they use in their jurisprudence, then the Shi ‘ahs do not apply all its rules on her - but there is no harm in it.


Now we come to his argument that 'the Shi'ahs do not prescribe stoning for a fornicator who has a Mutah wife, and it shows their conviction that the words of Allah, muhsinin ghayr musafihin (= which he interprets as 'in marriage') are not applicable to him; and it is a clear contradiction in term.'


First of all, we have explained in the commentary of this verse that, because this clause includes conjugal union with one's slave girls too, it obviously means 'chastity', not marriage.



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Even if we accept that muhsinin means 'in marriage', not, 'in chastity', [as translated by us] then the verse includes Mutah marriage in any case. As for non-stoning of the fornicator who has a Mutah wife (apart from the fact that stoning is not a Qur’anic law), it is based on explanation or restriction by the sunnah, like other matrimonial laws - inheritance, maintenance, divorce and waiting period.


To put the above statement more clearly, if a verse relating to laws is taken to be vague - because it only aims at ordaining the basic rule - then whatever restrictions are attached, they will amount to its explanation; they will not be counted as a restriction or a condition. If, on the other hand, the said verse is taken to be a general or unconditional one, then the explanations given in the sunnah will be counted as restrictions or conditions. There will not arise any question of contradiction in terms in such cases. See for details the books on the Principles of Jurisprudence.


These verses of inheritance, divorce and maintenance, like other verses, are not free from restrictions and conditions. An apostate wife is debarred from inheritance, and separates without any divorce; the husband may cancel the marriage without giving divorce, if the wife has certain defects; a recalcitrant wife loses her right of maintenance. With all these restrictions, what objection is there if a few other rules are restricted because of the Mutah? The statements that remove the Mutah marriage from the rules of inheritance, divorce and waiting period are either restrictions or conditions.


As for the fact that, in the language of the Muslims, the words, an-nikah and at-tazwij are now exclusively used for permanent marriage, it creates no difficulty for our stand, even if the said writer thinks otherwise. When a jurist says: 'A permanently married (al-muhsin) fornicator shall be stoned;' and then says: 'A fornicator who has a Mutah wife shall not be stoned because he is not al-muhsin’; it only shows that in his terminology al-ihsan implies permanent marriage that has certain especial effects. But it does not effect the language of the Qur’an in which al-ihsan has been used together for both – permanent and temporary - marriages; and which establishes especial rules for each.



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As for his claim that the Shi‘ah do not prescribe waiting period for a Mutah wife, it is a shameless slander. There are the collections of Shi‘i traditions and the tomes of their jurisprudence, all of which clearly say that the waiting term of a wife of Mutah is two monthly courses. Some relevant traditions narrated through Shi‘i chains from the Imams of Ahlu 'l-bayt have earlier been quoted in this discourse.


The said writer further writes: "The traditions and ahadith that have been narrated on this subject, all together show that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to allow Mutah to his companions in some expeditions, then he forbade them, then again allowed it to them once or twice, then prohibited them to do so - a perpetual prohibition.


"He had allowed it only because he knew that it was difficult for them to abstain from fornication when they were away from their wives. Thus the Mutah was a sort of lesser evil. It was much better if a man married an unmarried girl for a fixed term and stayed with her during the agreed period, rather than being occupied in fornication with any woman he could seduce."


COMMENT: What he has said that the traditions on the whole show that it was allowed in some expeditions, then disallowed, then again allowed once or twice, then prohibited for ever, does not agree with any of the traditions with all their mutual contradictions and irreconcilability. Just have a look at them (and we have quoted earlier most of them) and you will find that they all together refute word by word what he has offered as a way of reconciliation amongst them.


He has further written: "The Sunnis are of the opinion that the permission of Mutah, once or twice, was a sort of a gradual step in final prohibition of fornication, as had been done in the case of intoxicants. Both these evils were wide-spread in the era of ignorance, but fornication was prevalent in the slave girls, not the free women."



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COMMENT: His claim, that permission of Mutah was a step by step approach to the final prohibition of fornication, implies that in their eyes Mutah was a sort of fornication, and that, like other ways of fornication, it was wide-spread in pre-Islamic days; and for this reason the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) took gradual steps - a soft approach - before finally forbidding fornication, hoping that in this way this prohibition would prove acceptable to the people. Therefore, first he prohibited other kinds of fornication and let the fornication of Mutah continue. He first allowed it, then prohibited and again allowed it until he could forbid it for ever, and then he enforced perpetual prohibition.


By my life, it is the most ignominious mockery of the pure religious laws, which Allah had promulgated with the sole aim of purifying this ummah and completing His favours on them. Now let us look at this opinion:


First: We have already explained that the claim that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) prohibited Mutah then allowed it, then again prohibited and again allowed it, when seen in the background of the verses: And those who guard their private parts. . ., which form the parts of the chapters of  'The Believers' and 'The Stair­way' - the Meccan chapters - and which, the said writer insists, prove the prohibition of Mutah, would mean only one thing: That the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) first abrogated these verses by allowing the Mutah, then abrogated the abrogation and revived and re-confirmed the verses; then again abrogated the verses and then again revived them and made them decisive, and this cycle was repeated several times. Is it anything but accusing the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of playing with the Book of Allah?


Second: Some verses of the Divine Book which prohibit fornication are as follows:


And go not near to fornication; surely it is an indecency and evil is the way ( 17:32).


What language can be clearer than this? And it is a Meccan verse that forms a part of a chain of several other prohibitions.


Say: “Come, I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you. . . and do not draw near to indecencies, those of them which are apparent and those which are concealed. . .” (6:155) The word, al-fawahish ( = indecencies) is plural, preceded by the article, al, within a prohibitory sentence. It means that the prohibitionary order covers all types of indecency or fornication. This verse too is of Meccan period.



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Say: "My Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed. . .” (7:33)    


The same word, al-fawahish, with the same grammatical details, is used in this verse, and this too is of Meccan period.  


And who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable. But whoever seeks to go beyond that, these are they that exceed the limits (23:5 -7; 70:29-31). 


Both these are Meccan chapters, and the verses prohibit all types of fornication, and, according to the writer's claim, that includes Mutah too.


These are the bulk of the verses which prohibit fornication, the unlawful indecency, all of them were revealed in Meccan period, and all of them are very clear about the prohibition. So, from where did he get the idea of graduality in prohibition? Or does he say - as is the clear implication of his claim that the verses of the chapter, 'The Believers' show prohibition of the Mutah - that Allah had prohibited it for ever; still the, Prophet (s.a.w.a.) preferred the step by step approach in enforcing this prohibitory order, by allowing it time after time to humour the people, so that in the end they would accept total prohibition. But Allah had very strongly admonished His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) against this very policy, when He revealed to him: And surely they, had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken You for a friend. And had it not been that We had already firmly established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little. In that case We would certainly have made you to taste a double (punishment) in this life and a double (punishment) after death, then you would not have found any helper against Us (17:73-75). [xi]



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Third: We should think about this permission which the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is supposed to grant time after time. Was he allowing the Mutah without there being any divine order to make it lawful? (We should not forget that the Mutah is presumed to be fornication and indecency.) If he was doing it on his own, then it would be a clear contravention of his Lord's command - but the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was protected by Allah from every error and deviation. Or was he doing it by Allah's order, then it would mean that Allah was enjoining indecency. But Allah has clearly refuted such suggestion when He addresses His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in these words: Say: "Surely Allah does not enjoin indecency” (7:28).


If, on the other hand, the Prophet was allowing it because there was a divine order to make it lawful, then it was not fornication, nor indecency. It was an ordained institution with its clearly defined boundary. It was not to be done with a woman in prohibited degrees - like the permanent marriage. Also, like the permanent marriage, there was the obligation of dowry, the waiting period (to prevent mixing of sperm and confusion of paternity). Add to it the advantage of satisfying the people's needs. Then why should it be called indecency? What is indecency? It is that evil deed which the society considers repugnant or repulsive because of its moral depravity and licentiousness, or because it disturbs public weal and puts hindrance in fulfillment of the society's needs.


Fourth: The claim, that the Mutah was a sort of fornication prevalent in pre-Islamic days, is a fabrication of history, a fiction that has no historical proof. No history book mentions it, either explicitly or implicitly. It was a system originated by Islam, a concession given by Allah to this ummah to provide for their needs, and to protect the Muslim society from spreading of fornication and other indecencies. [xii] Would that they had established this system. Then the Muslim governments would not have felt so much constrained to turn a blind eye to fornication and other indecencies, which have gradually become a part of their social structure - thanks to the secular codes - and which have filled the earth with depravity and wickedness.



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As for his claim that "both indecencies were wide-spread in pre-Islamic days; but fornication was more common among slave girls, not free women", apparently by the two indecencies he means fornication and drinking intoxicants. This much is correct. But there is no ground to claim that fornication was wide-spread in slave girls and not in free women. Numerous historical proofs of diverse nature prove otherwise. Look, for example, at their poems which describe their exploits. Also, the narration of Ibn 'Abbas been quoted earlier that, according to the people of the era of ignorance, there was no harm in fornication if it was not done openly.


Also, there was the custom of claiming paternity of one's illegitimate child, and of adoption, that was wide-spread in the era of ignorance. It was not merely a nominal thing to establish whom the child belonged to. It was prevalent because the powerful persons wanted - through this affiliation - to increase their preparedness [for fights] and their man-power. They relied for this matter on illicit sexual relations which they established with free women - even the married ones. So far as the slave girls were concerned, the Arabs, and especially the powerful ones, thought it a disgrace to mix with them, or to court and woo them. As for the slave girls, their only role in this was that their masters coaxed them for prostitution, exploiting them for their own monetary gains.


The above situation may be comprehended from the stories of affiliations described in traditions and biographies, like the story when Mu'awiyah, son of Abu Sufyan, attached Ziyad (the bastard) to his father, Abu Sufyan, and the evidence given by [Abu Maryam, the wine merchant] concerning that affair, as well as other such episodes that are narrated in the books.


May be someone would quote the words of Hind [wife of Abu Sufyan] spoken to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) at the time of offering her bay'ah (allegiance): "Does a free woman commit adultery?", and offer it as a proof that adultery and fornication was not common among the free women. But if you look at the collection of the poems of Hassan [ibn Thabit al-Ansari] and ponder on the satiric poems he had composed to ridicule this same Hind, after the battles of Badr and Uhud, you will remain in no doubt and will see the reality in its true perspective. [xiii]



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Thereafter, the said writer has tried to clarify the meaning of the traditions, and vainly attempted to reconcile them to one another, and finally has said: "According to the Sunnis, there are [three] main proofs of the Mutah's unlawfulness: First: As you have seen, it goes against the apparent meanings, if not the clear wordings, of the Qur’an , concerning the marriage, divorce, and waiting period. Second: The traditions which clearly say that it was forbidden perpetually up to the Day of Resurrection ... Third: Its prohibition by 'Umar and his indication, from the pulpit, of its being prohibited, and the confirmation of his views by the Companions; and it is known that they had never remained silent on any unlawful thing, and used to argue with him if he was in wrong."


Then he has taken the stand that "'Umar had not prohibited it by his own ijtihad; that he had done so relying on the prohibition that was well-established by the prohibitory order of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and that this prohibition is attributed to him only because he had made it clear or enforced it, as they say: ash-Shafi'i has prohibited wine and Abu Hanifah has made it lawful."


The author says: As for his first and second proofs, you have seen the reality in the preceding description, as well as in the Commentary, in its utmost clarity. Now comes his third argument: We agree that 'Umar had made it unlawful; it is irrelevant whether he did so by his own ijtihad, or relying on Prophetic prohibition (as this writer claims); it is equally immaterial whether the Companions had remained silent because of his fear and dread, being intimidated with his threats, or because they agreed with his prohibition (as the writer claims), or because a certain group did not agree with it, as is seen in the traditions narrated from 'Ali, Jabir, Ibn Mas'ud and Ibn Abbas. The fact remains that 'Umar's prohibition and his swearing that he would stone anyone who would do it or would say it was lawful, cannot have any effect whatsoever on the verse under discussion which clearly shows its lawfulness; and whose connotation has not been blunted by the Qur’an or the sunnah. There is no doubt about the meaning of the verses and their decisiveness.



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Another writer has really overdone his 'argument' when he claims that the Mutah was only a custom of pre-Islamic days, which had never entered the Islamic boundary; so there was no need of removing it from Islam, or of abrogating it through the Qur’an or the sunnah; the Muslims had never known it, and it is not found except in the Shi'i books!


The author says: This writing, which by one stroke of pen has wiped off the Qur’an, the traditions, the consensus and the history, has brought the ever-shifting position [of the Sunnis] on this subject to an amazing point. The Mutah was an established custom during the days of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Then came the reign of 'Umar and he forbade it and the prohibition was enforced among the masses. That prohibition was justified on the grounds that the verse of Mutah was abrogated by other verses, or by prohibitory order of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). But several companions [xiv] and a lot of their followers from among the jurists of al-Hijaz and al-Yaman as well as others opposed that prohibition. This list includes the likes of Ibn Jarih [xv] (one of the Imams of al-hadith) who staunchly believed in its lawfulness, so much so that, in all, he had done Mutah with seventy women; and Malik [xvi] (one of the four Imams of Jurisprudence).



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This continued for some time. Then the later days' exegetes turned a blind eye to the meaning of Mutah that was clearly understood from the word, istamta'tum, and tried to interpret it as permanent marriage; as for the Mutah marriage, they said that it was a system originated by the Prophet's order which was later abrogated by his subsequent tradition. Lately, they claimed that Mutah was a kind of fornication prevalent in the era of ignorance, which the Prophet repeatedly allowed and disallowed until it was perpetually forbidden up to the Day of Resurrection. Now comes this latest 'scholar' who says that Mutah was only a sort of fornication in pre-Islamic days, which had never been known in Islam and which is not found outside the Shi‘i books!

Only Allah knows what turn this subject will take in coming days.




[i] The Vatican seems oblivious of this simple difference between underlying reason of a law and the law itself. That is why it has totally prohibited use of contraceptives, on the plea that it goes against the philosophy of marriage. But does Vatican have the conviction of courage to take this 'argument' to its, logical end? Is it prepared to forbid intercourse with a pregnant wife, or ban marriage of infertile men or women? They should have banned these and other examples given in the text because they too cannot produce pregnancy. The prelates of the Roman Catholic Church - all unmarried men - are perhaps unaware that lawful satisfaction of sexual urge is in itself a valid underlying reason of marriage. (Tr.)


[ii] A part from that, the arguments about the Mutah are intended to establish whether Mutah is a valid form of marriage or not; whether the woman of Mutah is a lawful wife or not. Now to assume that the word, ‘mates’ (or wives), used in this verse excludes the Mutah wife is to beg the question. (Tr.).


[iii] There are other examples where a wife is not entitled to her husband's inheritance. For example, if she is a slave or has killed the husband, she is debarred from his inheritance. Likewise, the Sunnis allow marriage with a Jewish or Christian woman, but she, being an unbeliever, does not get any share in the husband's inheritance. Nobody would suggest that this exclusion affects her status as wife in any way. (Tr.)


[iv] We have already shown that the hypothesis of marriage between Adam's immediate sons and daughters was not correct; [see note, vol. 7, p.222]. As for Ya'qub (a.s.) having two sisters together, it is reported in the Old Testament, and we have described in vol. 6 how unreliable those writings of dubious origin are. It is unrealistic to base one's argument on such writings. (Tr.)


[v] Probably the correct word is ash-Shamakhi (= one belonging to the tribe of ash-Shamakh). Some Sunni traditions say that he was a man from the tribe of ash-Shamakh. Or, the correct text may be: 'about the woman from the tribe of ash-Shamakh concerning whom Ibn Mas’ud had given a ruling.' (Author's Note)


[vi] The text of al-Wafi says: ‘From where did he take it?’ (Author’s note)


[vii] Another version says: except the most scoundrel.’ (Author’s Note)


[viii] How can a preceding phrase of the same verse abrogate the clause of Mutah which comes after it? (tr.)  


[ix] As the author has commented above, such claim would antedate the supposed prohibition of Mutah prior to hijrah, which even the Sunnis do not claim. Moreover, as I have noted earlier, the whole argument for or against Mutah is meant to establish whether a woman of Mutah is a lawful wife or not. Now to assume that the word, 'mates', used in this verse excludes the Mutah wife is begging the question. (tr.)  


[x] Other scholars say that it was allowed and disallowed repeatedly. Muslim has given the following heading to the chapter of "Mutah" in his as-Sahih: 'Chapter of the Mutah marriage, and that it was allowed, then abrogated, then again allowed, and then abrogated . . ." ash-Shafi'i says: “I do not know anything in Islam that was allowed, then prohibited, then allowed and then prohibited." Some have said that it was allowed and abrogated three times; others have said, more than three times. Vide Tafsir Mazharf, by Qadi Thana`ullah Panipati, p. 72. (tr.)  


[xi] These verses are of Meccan period. Could the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ignore this clear divine command years later  in case of Mutah ? (tr.)


[xii] It appears the author may have been mistaken on this point. The verse "Allah desires to explain to you, and guide you into the ways of those before you, and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise" (4:26) follows soon after the verse of Mutah (4:24). It seems this verse is a hint that Mutah and slavery were from amongst the ways of those before us (the prophets [as]). Please refer to 'Islam In The Bible' by Professor Thomas McElwain (Ali Haydar). See the Chapter Nine: Concubinage or Marriage Of Pleasure for an alternative opinion. (The Mutah Matchmaker)


[xiii] This Hind was very much attracted to the black youths, and whenever she gave birth to a black-coloured child, she killed it. (Vide: Sibt Ibnu 'l-Jawzi, Tadhkirat khawdsi 'l-ummah, p. 186.) As for Hassan's poems, these are very explicit and were recited in presence of the Prophet (s.a. w.a.). Four rather mild lines are as follows:  

Have you forgotten the adultery you have committed? 

O Hind! Curse be on you to the end of the time! 

The midwives believe that she has given birth to 

An infant that is the product of adultery.


[xiv] A truly astonishing comment on this verse has been written by az-Zajjaj who says: "A group has committed a great blunder in this verse, because of their ignorance of the language. That is, they have said that the verb, istamta'tum (you have Mutah) is derived from al-Mutah, which, all scholars unanimously say, is unlawful." Then he claims that "the said verb means marriage".  

Would that I knew which part of his writing can be mended! Can anyone repair his accusing the people like Ibn 'Abbas and Ubayy of ignorance of language? Or, his claim that all scholars unanimously agree on prohibition of the Mutah? Or, his claim of expertise in Arabic language while he translates al-istimta (to do Mutah) as marriage? (Author's Note)

[xv] See his biography in Tahdhibu ’t-tahdhib and Mizanu ’l-i‘tidal. (Auth.)


[xvi] See the books of Jurisprudence for these views. Detailed juristical and theological discourses on Mutah may be found in the writings of the scholars of these subjects, be they of early days or of later periods – and especially the modern eminent personalities who have scholastically reviewed all the arguments. (Author’s note)