Temporary Marriage & Its Illegitimacy in Islam

By Brother Abu Ruquayyaa

Of the basics and foundations on which Islam was built was the gradual implementation of injunctions so that people can be prepared to apply these without shock or surprise. In this manner, the impact of the injunctions is less strenuous. This gradualism requires the permissibility of some actions as a temporary measure to deal with situations and circumstances.

Then these permissions end as the purpose which they aim to serve is no longer a necessity. Then when the law of Allah was fully revealed, this law remained applicable until the Day of Judgement.

Our divine law was completed with the words of the Most High:

"Today I have perfected for you your religion, and completed upon you my favour, and accepted for you Islam as a way of life."
[Qur'an 5:4]

After the revelation of this noble verse, there was no longer any change or exchange. This gradualism in implementation has included many religious laws such as the law relating to alcohol, and the law relating to inheritance and others.


In this short précis, we are focusing on temporary marriage and what is linked to it of practical wisdom's which have been missed on many amongst the common people, to an extent that it facilitated the spread of many false claims about the law of Allah Most High lying about his Messenger (saws), and hatred to his righteous companions (r.a.a.).

What is temporary marriage?

It is a temporary marriage upon agreement of the two parties. This temporary marriage was a custom amongst eastern countries, as it was also practiced by some men at the dawn of Islam on their missions / trips.

Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas (r.a.a.) said: "Temporary marriage was at the beginning of Islam. A man comes by a town where he has no acquaintances, so he marries for a fixed time depending on his stay in the town, the woman looks after his provisions and prepares his food, until the verse was revealed: "Except to your wives or what your right hands possess." Ibn 'Abbas explained that any relationship beyond this is forbidden. [narrated by Tirmizy]

As temporary marriage was a custom amongst Arabs in the days of ignorance, it would not have been wise to forbid it except gradually, as is the manner of Islam in removing pre-Islamic customs which were contrary to the interests of people.

It is well established that temporary marriage does not agree with the interests of people because it causes loss to the offspring, uses women for fulfilment of the lusts of men, and belittles the value of a woman whom Allah has honoured. So temporary marriage was forbidden.

The evidence of its illegality:

We will show - God willing - some of the countless evidences in order to wipe out some of the maligning accusations which the misguided repeat against Umar Ibnul Khattab (r.a.a.). These people falsely claim that he was the person who forbade it when he was Caliph. Their motive for this false claim was but their blind spite for the companions of the Messenger (saws) who had succored him, supported him, and assisted him.

Allah Most High says: "So whatever you enjoy from them, give them their recompense, this is an obligation." [Qur'an 4:24]. This is the verse relied on by those who support temporary marriage. They rely on it either in ignorance or in order to fool others, giving a superficial meaning to the verse without referring to the interpretation of it, and without availing the correct interpretation to the general public. The following is the interpretation of it:

Imam Qurtuby says in his commentary on this verse, the payment in the context is the dowry, it has been called recompense because it is a fee for the enjoyment. This is a support for dowry being a recompense. Alhasan, Mujahid, and others said: The meaning relates to what you have 'enjoyed through your union with women in proper marriage, so "give them their recompense" that is, their dowries.

Ibn Khuwayz Mindad said: There is no support and it is not permissible to use the verse as a permission for temporary marriage as the Messenger of Allah (saws) has warned against and has forbidden temporary marriage as Allah Most High said: "So marry them with the permission of their families." It is natural for the marriage to take place with the permission of the parents, this is a proper marriage which has a trustee and two witnesses, temporary marriage is not like that. 'A`isha said: "It has been forbidden in the Qur'an in the words of the Most High: "And those who preserve their private parts except with their spouses or what their right hands posses, then they would have no blame." [Qur'an 23:5]. Temporary marriage is not regarded as a proper marriage, and the spouse does not fall into the category of what the right hand possesses.

Ibn Katheer says in his commentary on this verse: as you enjoy them, give them their dowries as the Most High said: "give women their money as a gift" [Qur'an 4:4]. He has interpreted the generality of this verse to include temporary marriage saying: There is no doubt that it was permitted at the dawn of Islam, and became forbidden afterwards.

Ibn Jawzy says in regards to this verse: some commentators have said: what is meant by this verse is the temporary marriage, and then it was superseded with what has been reported from the Prophet (saws) when he forbade temporary marriage. This interpretation has no basis. The Prophet (saws) permitted it then forbade it with his own words, so his later prohibition supersedes the permissibility. As for the verse, it does not touch on temporary marriage. It only relates to enjoyment through proper marriage."

There is a plethora of statements of the Messenger (saws) which forbid temporary marriage, some of the Hadith include:

According to Sabra Bin Ma'had AlJuhany who said: I was with my cousin when we passed by a woman who liked my youth and a robe which my companion had. So she offered temporary marriage with the robe as the dowry. I married her and spent the night with her. In the next morning, I went to the mosque and heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) saying: 'O people, I had permitted you temporary marriage before, whoever of you has any part in it currently must part with her, and do not take back anything which you may have given them, as Allah Exalted and Majestic has forbidden it until the day of resurrection.' " [narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Nasa`i, and Darimi]

Ali Bin Abi Taleb (r.a.a.) said that the Messenger of Allah (saws) had forbidden temporary marriage on the day of Khaybar and had forbidden the eating of the meat of domestic camels. [narrated by bukhary, Muslim, Tirmizy, Ibn Majah, Nasa`i, Tahawy, Shafi'i, Bayhaqy, and Hazimy]

According to Sufyan Althawry according to Isma'il Bin Umayya according to Alzahry according to Alhassan Bin Mohammad according to Ali (r.a.a.) who said to a man: "You are a straying person, the Messenger of Allah (saws) has forbidden temporary marriage and the meat of domestic camels on the day of Khaybar." [Narrated by Muslim and Bayhaqy]

According to Misdad Bin Masarhad according to 'AbdulWareth according to Isma'il Bin Ummaya according to Alzahry who said: "We were with 'Umar Bin 'Abdul'Aziz and we recalled temporary marriage, a man called Rabee' Bin Sabra said to him: 'I testify that according to my father that it happened that the Messenger of Allah (saws) had forbidden it on the farewell pilgrimage.' " [narrated by Abu Dawood and Imam Ahmad]

According to Abu Huraira (r.a.a.), the Messenger of Allah (saws) had forbidden or abolished temporary marriage, its marriage and its divorce, its waiting period, and its inheritance. [narrated by DarQutny, Ishaq Bin Rahwiya, and Ibn Habban]

Abu Bakr Bin Hafs reported according to Ibn 'Umar who said: "When Ali was given the Caliphate, he thanked Allah Most High and praised Him and said: 'O people, the Messenger of Allah (saws) had permitted temporary marriage three times then forbade it. I swear by Allah, ready to fulfil my oath, that if I find any person who engages in temporary marriage without having ratified this with a proper marriage, I will have him lashed 100 stripes unless he can bring two witnesses to prove that the Messenger (saws) had permitted it after forbidding it.' " [Ibn Majah]

Imam Muslim has narrated that according to Mohammad Bin 'Abdullah Bin Numayr who said: "My father had narrated to us according to 'Ubaidullah according to Ibn shahab according to Alhassan and 'Abdullah the sons of Mohammad Bin 'Ali according to their father according to 'Ali (r.a.a.) that he heard Ibn 'Abbas (r.a.a.) being lenient towards temporary marriage, so he said, 'wait Ibn 'Abbas, the Messenger of Allah (saws) had forbidden it on the day of Khaybar when he also prohibited the meat of domestic camels.' "

This evidences illustrates the correctness of the consensus about its prohibition. Particularly as 'Umar Ibnul Khattab (r.a.a.) had mentioned its prohibition from the pulpit and stated its punishment, and reminded the congregation that the Messenger of Allah (saws) had prohibited it and strongly admonished against it, this was at the presence of both the migrants and the supporters, and none disputed it with him or differed with him, knowing well their care and attention to make sure that the truth is always revealed, and any error is corrected as they had done with respect to other issues. Furthermore, the prohibition has been reported according to a number of companions other than 'Umar.

Its prohibition has been reported according to 'Ali Bin Abi Taleb, 'Abdullah Bin 'Umar, 'Abdullah Bin Mas'ud, 'Abdullah Bin Alzubayr, 'Abdullah Bin 'Abbas who when reminded of its prohibition also supported the prohibition when he understood the references of the others. This is also the understanding of the followers, the scholars, and all the Imams. They were all unanimous on this issue.

To cap the research, below are the opinions of the four Imams; these will leave no excuse for any.

Hanafi Mazhab: stated in Fathul Qadir that the temporary marriage is void, and defined this marriage as a man saying to a woman I will enjoy you so many times for a certain sum of money. He also said in AlHashia after dealing with the two different types of temporary marriage, that it is a contract with a woman which is formed with the intention of not providing security or fosterage for a child, instead it is for a fixed period, and the marriage ends with this period, or a non fixed period based on the person's stay with the wife until he decides to leave, and then the contract is ended.

Shafi'i Mazhab: temporary marriage is a marriage for a period, so if it was requested of a guardian to marry his ward for a month, this would be a void marriage.

Maliki Mazhab: temporary marriage is one for a term, as if saying to the guardian allow me to marry your ward for a month for such a fee, if they agree, the marriage would be void and both spouses would be liable to a penalty. This marriage is ended without a divorce, regardless of whether it is before consummation or after.

Hanbali Mazhab: Temporary marriage is a marriage for a term whether fixed or not, there is no difference whether it is labelled as a marriage or not, where the man says to the woman allow me to enjoy you, she says I give you myself for enjoyment, without a guardian or two witnesses. The temporary marriage raises two issues. One for a fixed term having a guardian and two witnesses, or one called enjoyment not having a guardian or witnesses. In both cases it is void.

After the opinions of the four Mazahib, we report the opinions of scholars from other Mazahib below.

Ibn Hazm said, "temporary marriage is not permitted; this is a fixed marriage which was permitted at the time of the Messenger (saws), then Allah superseded it through His Messenger (saws) until the day of resurrection."

Imam Shawkany: "We worship in accordance with what we learnt from the Messenger (saws), and we have ascertained the authenticity of his eternal prohibition of temporary marriage. The fact that some companions were not aware of this does not negate the large number of companions who were aware and who have acted upon the prohibition and proclaimed it."

Qady 'Ayyad said: "The scholars reached consensus that temporary marriage was a marriage for a term with no inheritance, its separation at the expiry of the term without dispute, the consensus after this was that it was prohibited according to all the scholars with the exception of the rejectors. Ibn 'Abbas allowed it until he became aware of the prohibition and then forbade it and said: "If temporary marriage takes place now, it is void regardless of whether it had been consummated or not."

Imam Nawawy said: "The truth of the matter is that it was permitted and prohibited on two occasions. It was permitted before Khaybar, then prohibited, then permitted on the day of liberation, the day of Awtas, then prohibited forever after three days of the event."

Imam Bayhaqi said: "Imam Ja'far Bin Mohammad was asked about temporary marriage, he said: 'It is adultery.' "

Before we close this research, we refer to the words of Imam Alfakhr AlRazy in response to those who claim that 'Umar added the prohibition of temporary marriage himself. So they declared him as an apostate and attributed apostasy to all who did not stop him: "all this is erroneous. All that is left to say is that temporary marriage was permitted during the time of the Messenger (saws), and I prohibit it with what has been authenticated with me that the Messenger of Allah (saws) prohibited it."

In this manner we see the manner in which Islam treated the issue of temporary marriage and how it became prohibited forever until the day of resurrection as has reached us through the true Ahadith. There is no doubt that contemplation in this brief message will find in it convincing proof that temporary marriage is prohibited for those who believe in Allah and are free from blind loyalty. We supplicate Allah Most High to make us of those who listen to the words and follow the best standard therein.

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