Unspoken Truths about Mutah
IT is astonishing how we are ever ready to accept the ‘evidence’ that Islam allows private sex contracts called mutah but will never fully consider the overwhelming counter evidence against it. The fact number one against Islamising mutah is that the Quran forbids ‘secret lovers’ which is a simple and yet effective counter evidence against the surreptitious practices dubbed as Temporary Marriage. Needless to say that verses that forbid secret lovers are never quoted by those who have forged Mutah in to Islam. In particular the verse 5:5 is never quoted in any discussion on Mutah even though it explicitly forbids taking private or secret lovers.
A simple fact about the Quran is that it only forbids those things that are of detriment to society and taking ‘secret lovers’ is known to lead to all sorts of evil consequences. A sexual closet culture, sex grooming, harassing widows for sex, prostitution, abortions, spread of lust, breakup of families and even child abuse are just a few. Here are some real life incidents:
A rich businessman in Pakistan coerced his female employees to do mutah with him in exchange to retain their jobs. A marshiya khan reciting eulogies of Imam Hussain (as) was exposed on Youtube videos sexing ‘shia girls’ in Pakistan with the aim to use his videos to blackmail the girls in to prostitution. In yet another case a group of Muslim women in India beat up a mullah who told them he will give them tawiz if they do mutah with him. This was highlighted by a BBC Radio documentary on Mutah. There are many more, and even worst examples, of how mutah has opened the door to moral degradation.
Interesting is also how mutah was first forged into Islamic literature and one of the early reference is by Sheikh Thani who describes Mutah as ‘Iraj Ul Furuj’ saying that it has a legal status of ‘hire’ and that Iraj Ul Furuj mean ‘Hiring of the Vagina.’ A woman in mutah was therefore a ‘hired vagina.’ Sheikh Thani writes in the 10th Century to deny ‘hired women’ the same rights as ‘permanent wives’ but today no self-respecting woman would accept her body part to be ‘hired’ and so we find that this description is never used in modern ‘shia’ literature. It therefore remains a hidden fact that mutah in early shia literature gave women a low grade but later literature gives it a status of ‘temporary wives’ to make the concept palatable for self-respecting women.
So the question is that how did mutah become a ‘marriage’ when it was a business deal to ‘hire’ a part of a woman’s anatomy? And can a hire deal that has been transposed in to a short-term marriage be valid in Islam? Is there a concept that marriage can be temporary when marriage by definition starts with the intention of life-long commitment? So is it a marriage or just a business deal for a woman to rent out her body parts?
After Sheikh Thani the ‘shia’ literature turns ‘hire’ of women into Temporary Marriage by making several contradictions that are discovered easily if you follow the trail. What is peculiar is how the word ‘mutah’ is turned in to temporary marriage’ even though mutah is not a root word for Temporary nor for Marriage. In fact the word Mutah is an adjective and just means pleasing or satisfying whereas the word marriage is a noun. So to translate Mutah as Temporary Marriage is meaningless as Mutah can be used for enjoying tennis or enjoying food or enjoying holidays.
Furthermore, the word Mutah, in whatever context, does not exist anywhere in the Quran. This one fact is like a death-nail for the concept of ‘temporary marriage.’ Ordinary people do not know this fact and so this is yet another fact hidden from the people regarding the Quran and mutah.
Let us look at how mutah is forged in to the Quran: Take Al Mizan - the Tafseer by Allama Tabatabai - that is highly valued among scholars. Shockingly in this tafseer you find that the Quranic verse 4:24 is changed both in key wordings and in grammar. Not only are key words in the verse removed but new words are added in to it.
To be more specific the first word removed is ISTIMTATUM, which is in verse 4:24 but is abrogated in almost all ‘shia’ tafseers. This word is replaced by the word MUTAH even though the word Mutah does not exist in it.
So why does the Allama need to change the Quranic word? The argument he proposes is that Istimtatum and Mutah have the same root and hence he says it is justified to remove the Quranic word and replace it with mutah.
So did God use the wrong ‘root’ word? The fact that scholars, even of the highest calibre and status, have had the need to change words in verse 4:24 is itself evidence that without such meddling they cannot fit the original words of the verse with ‘temporary marriage.’
And there are more issues with the way this verse is changed. First, the adjective Istimtatum is changed to mutah and mutah is metamorphosed in to a noun even though the grammar in the verse is for the adjective Istimtatum. This then needs the grammar to be corrected and so the Allama adds the words ‘to seek’ in order to correct the Quranic grammar and fit it with his transformation of mutah in to temporary marriage.
What the Allama has done is tantamount to forging and alluding that God got it wrong. So a new theory is now created thus:
This new theory is proposed by Sheikh Amaar Nakshawani who in his lecture on mutah attempts to answer why temporary marriage is not mentioned in the Quran. He asserts that the people in the 6th Century did not use the word Mutah but instead used the Quranic word ISTIMTATUM (an adjective) to mean temporary marriage (a noun). However, this claim is actually a contradictory claim to that of Allama who says that the word mutah was ‘in vogue at the time of the Prophet.’ Hence the history of which word was used is therefore not established as both men are saying contradictory things.
Furthermore what Sheikh Naksawani misses is verse 46:20 where the same word ISTIMTATUM is used thus: ‘The infidels seek istimtatum in this world and for them is hell.’ So if Sheikh Naksawani was right that ISTIMTATUM meant temporary marriage in the 6th century then it would mean that the infidels ‘seek temporary marriage’ in this world and for them is hell. This impasse is not dealt with by Sheikh Naksawani.
Given the fact that verse 4:24 cannot be transposed in to permission for mutah what is astonishing is the acquiescing silence from the Sunnis. This may be because the Sunni scholars are not thinking outside the box or because they have the same contradictions. And one blockage for Sunnis is that they rely on blind text without going in to a full critique of what was written. Their dilemma is actually the same as one faced by Shias who also have a primary reliance of text and who shy away from a critical analysis of what has been accepted in the past. It is this stagnation that is the cause of so many deadlocks in ‘Islamic Law’ and for centuries things have not moved on to a more informed and critical perspective. An example is the textual reported statement from the ‘masumeen’ that women are ‘nakis e akal’ or defective in intelligence. This is as bad as saying that a woman’s parts can be hired. This kind of misogynist statements characterises Islam even though these are not Quranic statement.
Hence to quote Sunni books and argue that the Sunnis too agree with the evidence in favour of Mutah only goes on to prove that the two schools of derivation are closely linked and refuse to accept a full analytical critique of their derivation. In fact - to put it bluntly - both Sunni and Shia scholars are really playing tennis with the rest of the Muslims on what either parties allow or disallow.
Take the example from Sunni sources that the Prophet allowed ‘mutah’ until the Battle of Khybar when he forbad three things namely Mutah, donkey meat and eating garlic. This is followed by another story of two ‘Companions’ who on their way to a place called Hunain pleaded to the Prophet to allow them to ‘castrate’ themselves due to them not having had sex for over two weeks! The narration in Sunni books says that the Prophet told them they could do ‘mutah in desperation’ and so they went off to look for available women to hire in the desert.
So now let us analyse the matter which Sunni scholars can’t do as they have a holy duty not to contradict the text even if it is full of holes. First take the claim that the Prophet forbad Mutah on the ‘day of Khybar.’ So if this narration is true then why did the Prophet not make it clear whether this was a total ban on mutah or a partial ban? And was it a ban only for those at Khybar or for all Muslims across the world? And would the Prophet ever issue a confusing ban that leaves people bewildered of what kind of ban it was? Clearly the story is a slur on the Prophet and depicts him as someone who came up with banning and unbanning things at his whim without explaining to his followers why, what and how the ban was to be viewed.
The only people who are served by these types of dubious story telling are those who advocate for mutah as they can say that the ban proves it was allowed previously. The slur it makes on the Prophet is of no concern to these people as their sole purpose it to somehow, at any cost, justify mutah.
A further point is this: The Quran forbids Muslims to mutilate themselves saying ‘don’t spoil what Allah has perfected. Don’t even mutilate animals!” This would mean that when the Companions came to ask the Prophet to allow castration then they were ignorant of the Quran. Hence what the Sunni Shahees are claiming is a slur also on these Companions as it means they were ignorant that the Quran has banned mutilation.
Even with all these issues against mutah unresolved the advocates of mutah will bounce off to Caliph Umar saying: “I now forbid you what Muhammad allowed you!” But again important details are always left out behind this statement.
So why are people never told the story behind these words of an old man called Amr Harith who was addicted to sex; who made a young (and possibly frightened) girls pregnant and then denied paternity? When Umar corner him to accept that he was doing this then he brought more than two of his friends to witness that the Prophet had allowed him such things. It was then that Umar used these words.
The truth is that Umar did not believe it as he had been with the Prophet since Mecca and had accompanied him in very major event. He wanted Amr stoned for what he did. To save his skin Amr got his friends to speak in his favour. Amr was influential and rich. Among his friends was Abbas who was one of the uncles of the Prophet. Abbas first claimed Amr was right that ‘mutah’ was allowed but when challenged he changed his stance and said it was allowed only in desperation. Finally Umar turned to Imam Ali who (even according to Shia narrations) said that it was forbidden. He even quoted verse 4:25 against mutah. Then when Amr Harrith and his friends were questioned regarding the verse 4:25 they said it was abrogated and that they swore that the Prophet allowed mutah to them. Amr had more than two witnesses to back his claim. It was then that Umar said: “I now forbid you what the Prophet allowed to you!” It is these words of Umar that are misused by advocates of Mutah to confuse people about when these words were spoken and against whom.
And then there are those people who claim that Imam Ali was in taqayaa when he told Umar that verse 4:25 is against mutah. But they forget that the verse 4:25 is concrete evidence. It is the smoking gun against mutah! This verse was from God and God can never be in taqayya! Furthermore, when Imam Ali (as) became the 4th political Caliph he still did not allow mutah. Umar had passed away by then and so what new excuse is there by the advocates of mutah as to why Imam Ali (as) did not allow it when he became the 4th caliph?
The last argument that advocates of Mutah try to hold on to is the claim that Imam Ali said that if Umar had not forbidden Mutah then only the wretched would commit adultery. But this is a fig leaf that can be pulled off by four arguments thus:
Firstly, one group of people who are not allowed mutah is married women. If this hadith is true then it will mean that if married women commit adultery then they cannot be wretched. Interesting eh!
Secondly if the Shias scholars agree with the Sunnis that the Prophet forbad it in Khybar, it will mean that the agree that the Prophet caused wretchedness to exist during Khybar? Again interesting eh!
Thirdly, it is like the false argument that if prostitution was not allowed then rape will increase even though prostitutes get raped all the time. There is no correlation showing rape is reduced by prostitution just as mutah does not reduce wretchedness. In fact in Iran a man was caught doing mutah with a mother and her daughter while neither of the women were aware of it. So is this not an example of how mutah has opened the door to true wretchedness?
Lastly, Imam Ali became the fourth caliph and so if he had said this then why did he not overturn it in order to avoid people becoming wretched?
Against those who stubbornly persist in justifying mutah there are two additional facts about the Quranic marriage. The first is that there is a limitation to the number of wives you are allowed and secondly all wives have to be treated equally. Both these conditions are missing in temporary marriage as there are no limitations to the number of temporary wives you can have at any one time and secondly the status of a temporary wife is not equal to the nikkah wife as one is a hired commodity while the other is a real wife .These two points clearly separate the ‘Quranic wives’ from the pagan ‘hired’ mutah wives.
As the Quran has not mentioned these ‘temporary wives’ they have no entitled to a divorce or inheritance in our sharia. The men who then wrote up the laws of mutah did so by copying from the pagans in order to define the mutah wife. For example if a child is born of mutah the child may not have a name if the father denies paternity. Her status, and of her child, is therefore lower than that of slaves who have rights defined in the Quran. So to be a mutah wife is a very lonely world as you have to be a secret wife, have no Quranic status and be bounded to pagan laws endorsed by men in the 10th century.
So today should we accept a mutah ‘hired’ pagan wife an ‘Islamic wife’ or is she just a mistress. Or is she - to be honest - only a prostitute for a man she contracts with? If she does not want payment then is she a girl friend or a bimbo! Or is she a commodity, a Barbie doll whose different body parts can be hired at different rates for different times? Whatever she is, she has a lowly status that Syeda Fatima (as) would not have endorsed for any woman who makes Syeda Fatima (as) her role model for life guidance. It is therefore staggering how we have been misusing the name of the Ahlul baith for centuries and how we have failed to make a proper analysis of this and many other practices and laws that have been enshrined in the sharia for centuries. It is of no use to continue to live in denial as otherwise we become yet another generation that is afraid to question and revitalise the Quranic moral system.