MUTA MARRIAGE UNDER MUSLIM LAW
The term ‘muta’ means pleasure, use, or enjoyment. Muta marriage means temporary marriage. The term of muta marriage is temporary as its term is fixed by an agreement by the parties and lasts for a specified period of time. Muta marriage dissolves after the expiry of the time agreed upon in the agreement.
The reason behind muta marriage is the philosophy of Islam that to fulfill his religion every Muslim has to marry during his lifetime. Thus, when a Muslim man goes to the battlefield where he is likely to die he must marry at least for a day, a month, or a year to fulfill his duty towards his religion. Muta marriage was justified as being useful during the time of war and travel.
The concept of muta marriage is not recognized unanimously by the whole Muslim community. Shia law recognizes muta marriage. In Shia also only the Ithna Ashari Muslim school recognizes muta marriage. It is rejected by all other Muslim schools. The Sunni Muslims do not recognize or accept muta marriage as they see it as prostitution.
Only a Shia male can contract a muta marriage with a Christian or Jewish religious woman or a fire-worshipping Parsi woman but not with a woman of any other religion. However, a Shia-woman is allowed to contract muta marriage with a non-muslim. In muta marriage a husband can have an unlimited number of wives as the ceiling of four wives does not apply in a muta marriage.
ESSENTIALS OF MUTA MARRIAGE:
The following are the essential elements for a valid muta marriage-
1. Specified Duration of marriage– The muta marriage is solemnized for a specified period of time like a day, a month, or a year as may be mentioned in the agreement of marriage. There is no minimum or maximum prescribed time limit and expires on the time agreed upon by the parties in the contract of muta marriage. Thus, the period of existence of muta marriage must be made clear at the time of marriage and should be written in the agreement of marriage. It must be noted that if no time limit is mentioned or written in the agreement the marriage is presumed to be permanent.
2. Fixed amount of dower– In muta marriage the amount of dower given to the woman has to be fixed. However, if the amount of dower is fixed but the period of the marriage is not written in the agreement then muta marriage becomes void as it may operate as ‘permanent marriage’.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OR INCIDENTS OF MUTA MARRIAGE:
The following are the legal circumstances of muta marriage-
a. No right of inheritance for the parties to the marriage– A muta marriage does not give mutual right of inheritance to the husband and the wife. However, the children born out of muta marriage are considered legitimate and thus they have a right to inherit from both the parents.
b. Right to Dower– Muta marriage entitles the wife to get the amount of dower specified at the time of marriage. Where the muta marriage is consummated the wife is entitled to the full amount of dower and if the marriage is not consummated then she is entitled to half of the amount of dower. If the woman chooses to leave her husband before the expiry of the specified term mentioned in the agreement of marriage the husband can deduct a proportionate part of the dower.
c. No right of divorce to the husband– As the muta marriage is performed for a specified period of time and expires ipso facto after the expiry of the specified term the husband’s right of divorce is not recognized. However, the husband may end the contract of muta marriage before the completion of its term by making a gift of the remaining term known as Hiba-i-muddat to his wife.
d. No right of maintenance to the wife– A muta marriage does not entitle a wife to get maintenance under Muslim personal law.
e. No restriction on the number of wives- A Shia male can have an unlimited number of wives in a muta marriage. The restriction of not having more than 4 wives does not apply in muta marriage.
f. Determination of a period of marriage– If there is no evidence of the term of muta marriage because the term for which muta marriage was contracted is not written and the cohabitation continues it will be considered that the muta marriage continued during the whole period of cohabitation. The children conceived by the woman during this period are considered legitimate and also have the right of inheriting. If the cohabitation continues even after the expiry of the term specified in the contract of muta marriage then it can be inferred that the term of marriage was extended to the full period of cohabitation. The children conceived by the woman during this extended term of muta marriage are also considered legitimate.