Mut'ah or Temporary marriage is legal (Halaal) and allowed in both Holy Qur'an [4:24] and Shia Islam. However, Sunni Islam consider it forbidden (Haraam). Shia Islam considers both Nikah (Permanent marriage) and Mut'ah (Temporary marriage) as blessing of God, to save one's self from various sexual sins.
The major difference between Nikah (Permanent marriage) and Mut'ah (Temporary marriage) is that Mut'ah is contracted for a particular period. There is no divorce (Talaaq) in Mut'ah, when the period end the contract of Mut'ah also ends.
All scholars of both Shia and Sunni branches of Islam agree to the fact that Mut'ah was practised during Prophet Mohammed's time, rather Prophet Mohammed himself allowed his companions to contract Mut'ah, specifically while they undertook voyage/ journey. Mut'ah was practised even prior to advent of Prophet Mohammed among Arabs, but their concepts were unregulated and rude.
Islam forbids fornication, adultery and other various sexual sins. On other hand, Islam takes care about carnal desires and thus provide for concept of marriage. Islam requires its followers to refrain from both sexual sins as well as celibacy. Prophet Mohammed declared, "That to marry is my custom and the one who avoids my custom is not from among my followers". Prophet Mohammed is also reported to have declared that marriage should be made so easy that task of fornication/ adultery (Zinaa) should become tiresome in comparison to it. Mut'ah no doubt is easiest marriage.
Mut'ah (Temporary marriage) like Nikah (Permanent marriage) is contracted by 'Aqd/ marriage fomula' along with 'Mehr/Payment made to bride', thus there is no issue left to call it illegal.
Nikah (Pemanent marriage) requires husband to provide wife with food, clothing, housing, medical aid, sexual satisfaction etc. Nikah apart from safeguarding from sexual sins provides base to make family and have babies. Mut'ah (Temporary marriage) aims more towards safeguarding from sexual sins in critical periods where possibility to commit sexual sins become very high, like in: journey, menstruation, postpartum time, health issues, moments when possibility to commit sexual sins become very high and unavoidable. Remember, Prophet Mohammed said, "make marriage so easy that task of fornication/ adultery (Zinaa) should become very tiresome in comparison to it".
Although, sole aim of Mut'ah is to safeguard one's self from sexual sins; pregnancy from Mut'ah is considered legal in Shia Islam, and just like in Nikah; title of child from Mut'ah also falls upon child’s father.
Since, sole aim of Mut'ah is to safeguard against sexual sins, it has no specified limits for time, and thus Mut'ah could be for little time (as some minutes, hours, days, weeks, months) up to several years. A very long period ie: many years or life-time turns Mut'ah into Nikah.
With regards to other duties of husband like providing food, clothing, housing, medical aid, sexual satisfaction etc to wife like in case of Nikah, Mut'ah also allows the spouses the same, provided those clauses are mentioned in the contract of Mut'ah. Else, Mut'ah don't obligate husband to provide for wives. To be specific, Mut'ah is such a contract where future spouses specify clause by clause each duty/ obligation, where as in Nikah everything is standard. Mutah allows would be spouses provide clauses in contract with regards to: to have sexual relations, abstain from any sexual relations, inherit, not to inherit, provide food, clothing, housing, medical aid etc or not to provide. Thus, Mut'ah is a custom made contract.
Nowadays, Muslims to marry enter in engagement before that; to know each other better, they talk, dine, travel with each other but in opinion of Islam such acts are forbidden (Haraam) and amount to sexual sins. Current trends are no excuse! Thus for Shia Muslims who allow Mut'ah, Mut'ah is a good agent to know each other before marriage when they start their family with Nikah (permanent marriage). No reason to accuse Mut'ah with premarital sex, since Mut'ah allows it to be contracted with terms that no sexual relations would be made between couple.
Mut'ah is perfect solution to enter into the state of Mehram (relative male/ female), since, Islam forbids Muslims to freely intermingle with Non-Mahram (non-Relative), and women are required to maintain Hijab (Cover body in front of unrelated men).
Mut’ah differs itself from Nikaah on several other aspects as well, since its core motives are to safeguard society against sexual sins, simplify marriage to satisfy carnal desires through rightful means and practise chastity. Unlike Nikah, Mut’ah doesn’t have divorce, thus when the term ends the Mut’ah is over. Since, there is no divorce in it; there is also no concept of Halaala (marrying another man after divorce and getting divorce from latter to re-marry previous husband). One more reason for this is that Mut’ah can’t be re-adjusted with new terms and condition while the contract is working. Thus, if the woman marries the same man once again they have just to re-enter a new contract either through Mut’ah or Nikah, there is no condition of Halalaa or Iddat (waiting period before remarriage).
However, in case the spouses don’t want to re-marry each other, and if the woman is about to marry another man, she has to observe iddat (waiting period before re-marriage). The iddat of Mut’ah as stated in one narration of 5th Imam Mohammed Baqir and yet another narration of 8th Imam Ali Reda is 2 months (2 menstrual cycles). However, if the husband dies the waiting period is similar to such case in Nikah, which is 4 months and 10 days (calendar period); this too is contextual from the narration of 5th Imam Mohammed Baqir.
If arguments are raised upon Mut'ah, about lack of family values since it is time bound, then although Nikah (Permanent marriage) is permanent but is never free from possibility of divorce (Talaq). In Mut'ah however, it lacks the process of divorce (Talaq) since it ends with the completion of term/ period. Another accusation raised against Mut'ah is that spouses don't inherit from each other; thus it amount to prostitution. Mut'ah allows spouses to inherit from each other provided that they have made it a clause in the contract, thus to accuse Mut'ah as prostitution is a blatant lie. One reason why Mut’ah is not prostitution is because Mut’ah could not be done with prostitutes, and woman needs to observe iddat to marry another person. Mut’ah could not be done with un-marriageable person (sister, brother etc). Mut’ah could be done with either Muslim or Ahlul Kitab (Christian and Jews) in case of men, and only with Muslims in case of women. Men can have any number of Mut’ah in addition to maximum four Nikah wives, provided each and every contract is respected, where as women can have just one husband at a time just like in Nikah.
A society which practises Mut'ah, in that society fornication, adultery, prostitution and various other 'Zinaa' along with other sexual crimes find them difficult to survive. In that society, people are not sexually starved, rather sexually satisfied, and acquire high level Islamic chastity. Prophet Mohammed asked his followers to keep marriage easy in comparison to fornication/ adultery (Zinaa). Those who forbade Mut'ah on themselves have done nothing but opened the doors of Zinaa on themselves.
All Shia and Sunni agree to the fact that Mut'ah was legal, but Sunni now consider Mut'ah forbidden (Haraam) on basis of several hadith (Prophet's narration) from Sahih Bukhari, that Mut'ah became forbidden (Haraam) during siege of Khaybar. Shia consider Sahih Bukhari as unreliable book. Verse of Qur'an could not be negated by a hadith which involve several people in chain of narration. Moreover, other hadith nullifies the claim of the above hadith.
The person who forbade (Haraam) Mut’ah out of no valid reason and having no authority to do so was Umar s/o Khattab the second caliph. Umar Khattab forbade both Mut’ah marriage and also Mut’ah of Hajj (Hajj Ta’Mattu) that is break between Umra (lesser pilgrimage) and Hajj (greater pilgrimage), forbidding any is inconvenience. Umar Khattab’s famous sermon is recorded in Sunni Hadith book ‘Musnad Ahmed ibn Hanbal’; he declared that if he found anybody doing any of the two things, he would severely punish that person. 1st Shia Imam Ali son of Abu Talib when he became fourth caliph; he reversed the order of Umar, and thus once again it became legal for those who considered it forbidden on orders of Umar.
Sunni Imam Abu Hanifa who was also student of 6th Shia Imam Ja’far Sadiq once asked Imam Ja’far Sadiq that: isn’t Mut’ah forbidden (Haraam)? Imam Ja’far Sadiq replied by asking whether he (Abu Hanifa) hadn’t read 24th verse of Surah Nisa’a, which allowed Mut’ah? Imam Ja’far asked him: O Abu Hanifa which sin is greater Murder of Adultery? Abu Hanifa replied: Murder! Imam Ja’far re-questioned him: then why does Murder require two eye witnesses to convict the accused while Adultery requires four eye witnesses to convict the accused? When Abu Hanifa remained silent, Imam Ja’far Sadiq informed him that God allowed Mut’ah to save people from sexual sins, but God knew; people will put barriers to the command of God, and a lot of accused would be made guilty of adultery. Thus, out of mercy He put the condition of four eye witnesses to convict the person accused of adultery, who would definitely be difficult to produce! Imam Ja’far Sadiq in another narration from Hadith book ‘Wasail ush Shia’ asks faithful men and women to do Mut’ah at least once in life time.
Following Ayat (verse) of Holy Qur'an legalise Mut'ah (Temporary marriage): Holy Qur'an, Surah Nisaa (Chapter 4), Ayat (Verse 24)
وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُم
وَأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ مَا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا
Translation: And married women except prisoners of war are forbidden for you by God, and legalized for you are beyond those, that you seek with your wealth for marriage and not immorality, so do temporary marriage (Mut'ah) with them, give them payment as obligated, and no blame is on you that you agree upon after the obligation, for sure God is Knowing and Wise.
The word Mut'ah has although several meanings but when it is used in context of marriage it means temporary marriage whose aim is to receive pleasure through legal means and avoid sexual sins. 'M-T' the root letters imply pleasure; Mut'ah and Istamta both signify temporary marriage in this context.
Wa/وَ (and) almuhsanaatu/الْمُحْصَنَاتُ (the secured, ie: already married) min/مِنَ (among) an-nisaa'i/النِّسَاءِ (women) illa/إِلَّا (except) maa/مَا (from) malakat/مَلَكَتْ (acquire) aemanukum/أَيْمَانُكُمْ (on right), kitaab/كِتَابَ (book) Allahi/اللَّهِ (of God) alaykum/عَلَيْكُم (on you) wa/وَ (and) uhilla/أُحِلَّ (legal) lakum/ لَكُمْ (on you) maa/مَا (from) wa/وَ (and) raa'a/رَاءَ (beyond) zalikum/ذَٰلِكُمْ (those) an/أَنْ (that) tabtaghu/تَبْتَغُوا (you seek) biamwaalikum/بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ (with your wealth) muhsinina/مُحْصِنِينَ (secure, ie: marry), ghaira/غَيْرَ (not) musafihina/مُسَافِحِينَ (immorality), fam/فَمَا (so) astamta'tum/اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ (do mut'ah/ temporary marriage) bihi/بِهِ (from) minhunna/مِنْهُنَّ (them) faatu/فَآتُو (you give) hunna/هُنَّ (them) ujura/أُجُورَ (payment) hunna/هُنَّ (them) faridah/فَرِيضَةً (obligation), wa/وَ (and) laa/لَا (no) junaaha/جُنَاحَ (blame) alaykum/عَلَيْكُمْ (on you) fimaa/فِيمَا (with) taraadaetum/تَرَاضَيْتُمْ (you agree) bihi/بِهِ (by) min/مِنْ (from) ba'd/بَعْدِ (after) ilfaridah/الْفَرِيضَةِ (obligation), inn/إِنَّ (sure) Allaha/اللَّهَ (God) kaana/كَانَ (is) Aliman/عَلِيمًا (Knowing) Hakimaa/حَكِيمًا (Wise).
Oh Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.
Oh Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.