The Concept of Mutah Marriage: Is it a Social Evil?

11 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2010 Last revised: 29 Aug 2010

Date Written: August 27, 2010


Marriage in Islam is a strong bond, a binding contract added to socio-religious facets , based on the intention of both partners to live together permanently in order to attain, as individuals, the benefit of the repose, affection, and mercy which are mentioned in the Qur'an, as well as to attain the social goal of the reproduction and perpetuation of the human species.

This paper is a study of the position of women in Islamic societies, with reference to the custom of Mutah Marriages. The Muslim population of the world is in excess of one billion and approximately one-half of this number, or five hundred million, are female. Geographically, Islam is practiced in all of Arabia, most parts of the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Africa, parts of Spain, and Portugal. Mutah Marriages are currently practiced by the Shia Schools of Law.

Professor Fyzee states that “Mutah” translates literally to “pleasure” in Arabic. In the Shia context, Mutah refers to a “temporary marriage.” A man pays a woman a sum of money (i.e. a so-called “dowry”) and he can have sexual relations with her for however long they agree for in the Mutah contract. The Mutah time period can be as little as one night, or even one hour – enough time for the man to do the sexual act . For a valid Mutah marriage, the requirements are the following: a. dower must be specified, otherwise the marriage will be void; b. the duration of the marriage must be specified.

There has been blatant use (or abuse) of Mutah Marriages. Ignorant women, minors, orphans, illegitimate children have been victims of this scarcely understood customary practice. Of late, there has been much ado about the concept of Mutah Marriages as being a legalized form of prostitution. Mutah has been explicitly categorized as haram by the Sunnis. However, it is still practiced in several parts of the Shia dominant regions of the world. Much of this discussion is whether the practice of Mutah is halal according to Islamic tenets. The rulings on Mutah have been different in different regions. Whereas, some jurists have banned the Mutah, others have upheld the same basing their conclusions on Quranic texts and Hadith.

The material presented in the paper is highly objective and tries to draw a relevant picture of the subject matter. Towards the end, the paper also attempts to bring in a contemporary study. Based on doctrinal research, this paper delves into the theories of Mutah as put forward by jurists and attempts to find whether the concept of Mutah was indeed a malicious provision for men.

Keywords: Mutah Marriages, Dower, Duration

Suggested Citation

Koundinya, Satyoki, The Concept of Mutah Marriage: Is it a Social Evil? (August 27, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Satyoki Koundinya (Contact Author)

Uppsala Universitet ( email )

Box 256
Uppsala, Uppsala 75105


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