Unspoken Truths about Mutah
isIn Abid Bata
IT is astonishing how we are ever ready to accept the ‘evidence’ that Islam allows private sex contracts called mutah but will never truthfully 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 in any circumstances.
Interesting is how mutah was first forged into early Islamic literature as highlighted in one of the early reference by Sheikh Thani who describes Mutah as ‘Iraj Ul Furuj’ giving it a legal status of ‘hire.' A woman in mutah was therefore on ‘hire or rented..’ Sheikh Thani writes in the 10th Century to show that ‘hired women’ do not have the same legal rights as a women in nikkah. Today there is a strange contention of this fact by those who see mutah as not a hire but a proper marriage even though all the fikh (personal laws) clearly prove that mutah is a hired deal. IN particular are sayings accorded to the Imams where mutah is reported to be about renting, hiring or leasing and is in line with the treatment of 'spare' women in those days when women were put in to categories of marriageable or hireable: This was true of society globally in those days and women who were not regarded as good for marriage were often outcasts and their only source of income or acceptance was to be hired. Even in the West where the concept of mutah is not found there were still women on hire and these included spinsters, divorcees and widows who had little children to feed but without 'hiring' themselves for sex they could not feed these children.
But society has moved on: Women now fly planes and do surgery. Today no self-respecting woman would accept to be on ‘hire’ as women empowerment has removed the category of women who could only earn a living by being hired. And so we find that the description of mutah has had to change and in almost all modern ‘shia’ literature mutah is not longer Iraj Ul Furuj (hiring) but has become a form of marriage and there are vehement denials that mutah was ever a hire deal.
Today in almost all modern day defense of Mutah you do not get the word hire but instead we are told that mutah is a type of marriage be it a temporary marriage. We are told that Nikkah is 'Permanent Marriage and 'Mutah' is Temporary Marriage. We are told that marriage is a contract and does not need to have the intention of life long commitment. What we find is a justification that marriage by definition is not about a life long commitment as marriages can also be with an infant for the sake of convenience, with slave girls for the sake of enjoying sex with her until she is freed, for a business or contract or for even temporary pleasure. In the tafseer Al Mizan we see that there are three types of marriages described thus: Permanent, Temporary and Slave-Girl Marriages.
What is most shocking is not that marriage is not regarded as a life long commitment but the Slave-Girl marriage can be done even if she is already married as described in Al Mizan on the interpretation of verse 4:24. In the tafseer you see a claim endorsed that the Prophet's Companions used to have sex with their slave girls on the precaution of the girls not being pregnant and then returning the slave-girls to their husbands once it was evident that they were not pregnanted.
So the question is that is ‘marriage’ in Islam of many kinds and nothing to do with life-long commitment? Are we to also ignore the early 'shia' writing that permit women to be hired for sex? And can a hire deal that has been transposed in to a short-term marriage be valid in Islam? Let us start by exploring if there is a concept within Islam that marriage can be temporary and nothing to do with life-long commitment.
So here is the Quran explicitly saying that marriage is meant to be life-long: There are no other definitions that extend it to temporary or contract or infant or slave-girl marriages. This is verse 30:21:
[30:21] Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
Here are other verses that clearly generalize marriage as a life long commitment: None of these verses are about law, or 6th century Arab culture, or slave girls or infants or about temporary contracts. They define marriage as love, life long partnership that lasts till husbands & wives enter paradise. The verses also tell people to marry even if they cannot afford it which means that if marriage was ever temporary then affordability would not come in to it. Here are the verses:
[24:32] You shall encourage those of you who are single to get married. They may marry the righteous among your male and female servants, if they are poor. GOD will enrich them from His grace. GOD is Bounteous, Knower.
[25:74] And they say, "Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous."
[40:8] "Our Lord, and admit them into the gardens of Eden that You promised for them and for the righteous among their parents, spouses, and children. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.
So the second question is that how did mutah which was the 6th century Arab hire deal to make women give sex for money get transposed by religious men in to a form of marriage? Let us look at the evidence.
To get a proper understanding of this matter we need to even consider the words in Arabic and what they mean. So consider this: Mutah is an Arabic word for pleasure or enjoyment or fulfilment. It is an adjective whereas marriage is a noun. So you can have mutah of playing tennis or mutah of watching Eastenders! When we go for Hajj then the relaxation period after Hajj E Tamatu is called the Mutah of Hajj.
So the first issue is that the word mutah has nothing to do with marriage. So how did the word MUTAH get to be turned in to a type of marriage is not clear from the narrations that justify it. These narrations leave a major gap in explaining why an inappropriate word is used when we are told that the Arabs were masters in the use of language. At best mutah can only be a slang for hiring and this is why there is a confusion in the way the word is used. Let us take an example:
You are allowed mutah would mean You are allowed pleasure. But pleasure of what? The word mutah would need to be qualified. It cannot be used on it's own. This is why modern day literature use the word Mutah Nikkah or Nikkah Mutah as the word Mutah on it's own can mean any type of pleasure or enjoyment as in the case of Mutah E Hajj.
In slang Arabic it may be that mutah could mean that you are allowed to do pleasure with a hired women but the Quran would not use slang as it would go against the universal use of language in the Quran.
The second relevant point to remember is that the word Mutah, in whatever context, does not exist anywhere in the Quran. This one fact is like a death-nail for the argument that temporary marriage is endorsed in the Quran. Muslims in general do not know this fact and are often assured that verse 4:24 has the word Mutah in it. This is not true!
Now that people are beginning to learn that the word Mutah is not anywhere in the Quran, not even in verse 4:24 there is a new meandering in the way the verse is explained. 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. Firstly key words in the verse are removed in substitution for new words which tantamounts to intellectual forgery going on to change what is in the Quran. Here is the proof to prove the point.
The first word removed is ISTIMTATUM, which is in verse 4:24 but is abrogated in the tafseer. 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 ISTIMTATUM to MUTAH? 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 derive the meaning they want from this verse.
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. But we live in a dynamic era where new explanations are forged in order to justify failed ones. So a new theory now is as follows:
This new theory is broadcasted 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. Both men assert with religious conviction and authority of their stance which itself is nothing less than mockery as the holy Quran does not need people to put their own view points to derive the meaning they want.
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 fact is not dealt with by Sheikh Naksawani in his renowned lecture on promoting mutah.
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 but in contradiction to it.
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 go in to denial. They get desperate by this stage and begin to rely on nonsensical slogans like 'you are against the ahlul baith' as though the family of the Prophet too made contradictions with the Quran, changed the Quran and relied on blind narrations. What is astonishing is that they will not have an argument against what is being said but immediately bounce off to attacking Umar.
They will quote from Sunni narrations that Umar said: “I now forbid you what Muhammad allowed you!” But again important details are always left out behind this statement in Sunni books thus:
The story is about rape by 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. Imam Ali (as) 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 what kind of men.
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. So why condemn women who look outside marriage to get sexual satisfaction as they cannot be called wretched if this narration is true?
Secondly if the Shias scholars agree with the Sunnis that the Prophet forbad it in Khybar, it will mean that they agree that the Prophet caused wretchedness to exist during Khybar? So now this adds to the evidence that everything about mutah is a slur on the Prophet.
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.
MY NEXT ARTICLE IS ON HOW THE OLD JUSTIFICAITONS THAT HAVE FAILED AND BEEN EXPOSED LED TO PIMPS IN IRAQ AND IRAN TO GIVE NEW EXCUSES TO JUSTIFY THE SEX TRADE OF MUSLIM GIRLS.