EXPOSING MUTAH -
An Alternative Shia Perspective
How is it that when the holy Quran in verse 5:5 forbids ‘secret or private lovers’ we still believe that secret practice of mutah is allowed in Islam?
And this is not the only verse against mutah. In fact much about mutah is against the Quran including the fact that in the Quran there is a limit to the number of ‘wives’ you can have but in mutah there is no such limit. In other words, mutah has not been bounded by the Quranic limits and is, therefore, above it.
So why don’t we scrutinising mutah from the Quranic perspective as, otherwise, our claims that we follow the Quran will prove to be an ingenuous claim?
Many a times the advocates of mutah use the language of discord to justify mutah and this is how they tactfully turn the discussion in to Sunni versus Shia diatribe instead of being honest of what is in the Quran. In particular, the discussion is always diverted to some impromptu words of Caliph Umar who had angrily reacted against an old man who made a young girl pregnant and then claimed such things were permitted by the Prophet.
Umar did not accept such a claim and so reacted angrily saying that regardless of the claim of the old man he still forbids it because he is the Caliph. Our Shia polemics mostly rely on these reactionary and rhetorical words of Umar to frame us with the logic that even Umar admitted that the Prophet had allowed such things.
But we do need to ask ourselves that do we really believe what the old man claimed about the Prophet that he allowed him to secretly have sex with young girls and that the Prophet was not concerned about girls getting pregnant outside nikkah? If so then why do we complain of teenage pregnancies and of one woman giving birth to children of different fathers? Or is it true that we have taken sides against Umar just out of political opposition to the Sunnis? Surely we need to look closely at this if we really want to face up to the truth about ourselves.
What further exposes mutah is the evidence from the earliest Shia literature written in the 10th century when mutah was described as ‘Iraj Ul Furuj’ giving it a legal status of ‘hire or renting’ of a woman. This exposes mutah as a ‘deal’ and not a marriage. In fact the words used in the 10th Century books are explicit and even claim the ‘renting of the vagina’ as one type of renting that is permitted. This type of concept that a woman’s body parts can be hired was accepted in pre-Islam eras. Then years later what was pre-Islamic became Islamic when someone decided to include it in the 10th Century writings and claimed that the Imams had done so.
To prove that this 10th Century definition of ‘Shia marriage’ is not Islamic we need to see how the Quran is giving us a different ‘meaning to marriage’ than the ‘hiring’ and ‘buying’ idea of the 10th century literature. Verse after verse of the Quran makes it clear that marriage in Islam is a holy union and not a ‘hiring or buying’ deal.
Today another major issue that advocates of mutah have not been able to grapple with is the Human Rights charter which puts aspects of mutah in the category of sex-slavery and rape because the fikh of mutah does not allow a woman to annul her sex contract without consent from the man who has paid to hire her body. According to our fikh a woman is bounded by her sex agreement and should fulfil it even if she has changed her mind later. Only the man can agree to release her and if he does not then he can even take her by force and this would not constitute rape because she is ‘his wife’ for the time be hired her.
Other issues with mutah are all the other social and personal issues that arise when a man & a woman become intimate but on a casual business basis. How cold is this, and what type of morality does this teach? How many times have girls been betrayed in to giving pleasure to men on the promise of nikkah? How many poverty stricken fathers have been persuaded to allow their daughters to be rented to rich men who use mutah as ‘halal sex deals’? How many employers recruit vulnerable girls as secretaries deliberately to then attempt to groom them in to mutah? How many women have been raped and mutah has given men the loophole to claiming that they had done mutah with the women they have raped? These are some of the social issues with mutah that we tend to ignore and which are all the ‘dirts’ that we don’t like to acknowledge.
One of the most exposing cases in Iran was of a man who had done mutah with a woman and then a few years later his own son did mutah with the same woman. Is this not evidence of wretchedness in mutah? So what happens to the belief that if Mutah was allowed than only the ‘wretched will commit adultery?”
Chances are that fathers & sons are ending up having mutah with the same woman (just like in prostitution) as nobody is registering who is doing mutah with whom. In fact when many men go to Ziyarats to Iraq, Iran and Syria they do mutah with widows or their daughters. Some men even boost that they have slept with all the sisters in one family. Then years later their sons or fathers also do the same thing. We call it ‘helping the widows’ when it is an exploitative sex trade in the guise of religion. And nobody is ready to expose this dirt that exists in our so-called Shia community. We just put the label of the Ahlul Baith on it and turn against Caliph Umar’s rhetorical & explosive words, and then we think we have made a good case for all this dirt to be ignored.
Those who make the case for mutah will invariable quote only one verse from the Quran namely 4:24 but when you closely examine this verse than you realise that even the word mutah does not exist in this verse. Even the context is not about any temporary fix for sex. The verse itself is a follow-on from the previous verse 4:23 which is about nikkah and the continuation of the verse is about women who are forbidden for marriages. When you closely examine the verse you notice that even the grammar of the verse is not for temporary marriage.
Yet the advocates of mutah assert in the strongest terms that this is a ‘mutah’ verse despite the word mutah not existing in the verse. The whole case of mutah from 4:24 hangs on the thread that the Quranic word ISTIMTATUM is MUTAH. The case hangs on omitting the word ISTIMTATUM from the verse and replacing it with MUTAH. In other words, the Quranic verse is being tempered with to justify mutah.
Clearly, the issues with mutah are real and the more the community delays an honest scrutiny the more far away from the Quran we become. Can our communities, therefore, afford to remain passive and keep misusing the name of the Ahlul Baith to justify mutah or should a new courageous thinking arise that is able to see the evidence in full before associating anything with Islam or with the Alhul Baith?
10 Questions on verse 4:24