Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A lesson in Mut'a (temporary) Marriage - Repost from American Girl's World Blog

I guess today I'm just not being very creative because I'm just hijacking other blogger's information.  American Girl is a friend who used to live in Kuwait and now lives in North Carolina with her husband and a family of Salukis they are raising.  I love her perspective - and just really like her in general.  Here is what she had to say about temporary marriage with a response from one of her readers.  I thought I would pass it along.  Some might find it informative. It is an interesting read.

Here goes...

Several times a week I get emails from readers who are involved in relationships with Muslim men and are often seeking advice on religion, culture, tradition, and how the three tie into one another — if at all. Many of them are also seeking advice on marriage and whether or not he’s ‘serious’ when he asks her to consider marrying him. Obviously I don’t have all the answers and never claimed to be a professional in the field of intercultural marriages, so I simply share information based on my experience and hope that helps.

A topic I recently realized I have never covered is Mut’a Marriage. And based on a few emails I’ve gotten as of late, I figured now would be the best time to touch on this.

My experience with Mut’a is pretty much nonexistent. It’s something (from what I understand) that is practiced among the Shia’a Muslims and not so much anymore within the Sunni community. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m basing this information off of friends in Kuwait and the UAE who are both Sunni and Shia’a. Therefore, I would love to hear from any readers who have been involved in a Mut’a Marriage in hopes of helping out some of the women who might be reading this and could use that guidance.

It’s my understanding Mut’a is a ‘temporary marriage’ where a woman agrees to be a man’s wife for a specified period of time and can then participate in all things husbands and wives participate in; ie. sex. There is no dowry involved, no additional benefits, no financial gain (unless he agrees to pay her a certain amount), and no support upon divorce. Some of these marriages last as short as a few days and some can be a lifetime I suppose. As far as their legality, I know they’re not recognized in the US as our marriages (to be legal) must be documented in a court. A Mut’a Marriage is simply an agreement between a man and woman. I don’t believe there’s any paperwork involved. However, I do believe it’s a fairly common practice for boyfriends and girlfriends as a way to eliminate any Islamic guilt. You know… have sex, pretend you’re married, and Allah doesn’t know any better. No offense intended. Just keeping it real.

That being said, if you’re one of the women who have written me about your boyfriend asking to marry you ‘temporarily’ to ‘test’ out how a real marriage would be, maybe that’s not exactly what he means. It’s possible he has a strong desire to have sex with you but his religious guilt is telling him to ‘do the right thing’ and ‘marry’ you. Of course the real right thing would be to respect you as a woman and keep it in his pants. But, chances are, you’re unaware of his culture and what is and is not permitted in his religion. He can pretty much tell you anything and you’ll pretty much believe it. And of course, once he starts throwing the idea of marriage around, it makes it all that much more appealing. And, well, ‘real’ in your mind.

Do your homework, ladies. And keep your panties on while you’re studying 


Muta’a is the Shiite version of temporary marriage, but there is also “misiaar” for Sunnis. Misiaar is a form of temporary marriage when a man travels (supposedly for a long period of time at a location far away from his wife, but more recently people have been bending the rules on this one). I don’t know the details of Misiaar marriages. Neither of these forms of marriage are accepted by legal entities (governments) and are done without witnesses, making them secret arrangements (at the discretion of the couple to tell people or not).

“Orfi” marriage is by contract with witnesses and presided over by an Islamic cleric. Both the man and woman sign the marriage contract. This form of marriage can be approved by legal entities if the couple takes the contract to court (or if the woman becomes pregnant).

I’ve been “temporarily” (“muta’a”) married several times; for very short-term and two that lasted over 5 years each. I didn’t seek the arrangements – it was because the boyfriend asked for it (and in one case, although muta’a is a Shiite Muslim belief, my Bedouin Sunni Muslim boyfriend asked me to marry him muta’a as it made him feel better/less guilty). In the case of both of the long-term arrangements, I was the one who didn’t want to get married in court for different reasons. But – I was educated before I went into it.

I’m not a Shiite Muslim. I don’t believe in the “sanctity” of temporary marriage; but I do believe in commitment and temporary marriage takes the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship to a different level, just by stating that you commit to that person for a period of time. (How many boyfriends can actually put a time limit commitment on your relationship or are willing to commit to anything at all?) You are saying vows out loud which makes it deeper somehow (at least in my experience and maybe I’m romanticizing something that is really just a pretend marriage?). All good and no judgement as long as everybody is in agreement and knows what it is and that it isn’t meant to last forever.

So, how do you get married via muta’a? The man recites a statement and the woman responds with a statement (I can’t remember the exact words). There is a mahar (dowry). It is usually symbolic (like a quarter dinar), however, the woman can ask for whatever she wants (and trust me when I tell you that NO man asking you to get temporarily married will educate you on this fact). In my long-term arrangements, I asked for rings (if you want me to take this seriously, then be serious). (But if you need a new refrigerator and a new set of tires, you can throw that in there – whatever you want.) In the statement, you insert the mahar amount (or material thing) and the duration of the agreement.
In my long-term temporary marriages, other people knew we were married (however non-traditional/controversial it may have sounded to others). Short-term marriages were basically for fun so the guys didn’t feel guilty about sinning. Whatever. There is no formal “divorce.” And – like other forms of marriage in Islam, the guy can marry several wives so you don’t know if he is temporarily married to other women at the same time. Muta’a within Arab circles is usually only done when a woman is divorced (meaning she is no longer a virgin).

My advice to your readers who are asking questions about the possibility of marriage to their Muslim boyfriend: There is no “try before you buy” in Islam. Ask him direct questions: Specifically, what type of marriage do you want? If the guy is serious about a “forever” commitment and wants you, tell him to get serious: put his mother on the phone with you. Tell him what you want. A reception? Flowers? Your family? His family? But get a marriage license first. AND – make sure that you know about the marriage contract before doing anything. If you don’t add in the contract that you want half of the house and/or alimony (specific amount) on divorce, you are going to be left with nothing. It MUST be in the marriage contract.


AG said...

Ain't you sweet <3

Thank you for all of your kind words and sharing the post for readers who might be interested.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

I know lots and lots of American, European, and North American girls who were divorced or simply abandoned by Qatari, Kuwaiti, and Saudi Sunni guys (I have recently heard of two cases of Philipino and Russian girls who had similar experiences with Omani Ibadhi guys). They (the guys anyways) never meant to do marriage for the long term, even they followed the legal requirements for making the marriage valid (witnesses, wali, maher etc.) . It is sadly, a totally growing trend:(. The happier temporary marriages did tend to be non-Muslim American Girlfriends with Shia guys. The girls wanted to date, the guys wanted "halal" sex. Since people were informed about it, it seemed less harmful than the abandonement or Misar things I see more with Sunnis (I'm sunni so I'm not hating on myself obviously, just bein' truthful).

Anonymous said...

I first heard about Mut'a in early 90's when we use to have Bahraini students staying with us in India. It was that the men would got to Egypt, for business "do Mut'a" for a day or so and come back - to me it sound as legalized prostitution! Please remove if not appropriate to comment.

Anonymous said...

The word "Muta'" literary means "pleasure". All the Muta' marriages that I have heard of - and I have heard of plenty - were for a few hours only. Only a couple of them lasted for a day or two, and that is when it involves a short trip. The main purpose of this type of marriage is to have sex under the umbrella of Islam. and just a small correction, this type of marriage does not exist in Sunna and has no legal form in any GCC court. If by accident the woman gets pregnant, the child will be considered as bastard, the wife would not inherit anything if the husband passed away, and both husband and wife are criminals.
My personal opinion is that I'd rather get caught having sex without marriage that get caught having sex with a verbal agreement between two people that allows them to have sex for a few hours or so.

Miriam Valmont said...

I'm an American woman who had a temporary marriage many years ago. I'm still grateful for the opportunity I had to get to know someone from another culture so intimately. I learned a lot which made me more compassionate. It also made me more likely to distrust what I hear in the main news media sources about other countries. The marriage touched me so much that I wrote a book about it. Here is the synopsis of The Bird and The Fish--Memoir of a Temporary Marriage:

Afshin, a captivating Iranian graduate student, rents a room in Miriam Valmont’s home. Landlady and tenant share an immediate and fast-growing attraction, despite the fact that Miriam is twice Afshin’s age. When Afshin proposes a temporary Islamic marriage, Miriam readily agrees, driven by desire and curiosity. What shocks her, though, is the role Afshin invites her to play at the end of the marriage so that he, as a Muslim, can continue to express affection. The Bird and the Fish is the story of two people with radically different lives who find a way to honor a passionate love.

Mut'a or sigheh is not for everyone. I was happy to have one for six months. One needs a strong psychological and emotional make-up to deal with the end date. At least, I did.

If you're interested in the book, it's available at Lulu.com and will be on Amazon, etc. in about 6 weeks.

Best wishes to all you women considering this form of marriage. What universal needs will you meet or not meet by having one? (Example: companionship, security, touch, love, etc.) Present needs and future needs could both be considered.