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Last Updated: 2011/07/23
Summary of question
What are the conditions of Mut'ah (fixed –time marriage)?
Sometimes ago I became familiar with a man whom I liked. In order for us not to fall into a sin, we recited the formula of marriage in Persian to become mahram with each other because we could not marry each other formally. No one knows about this relationship. My family is unaware about it and we have sexual relations with each other. We had asked some people about this relationship and they said to us that it is Mut'ah (fixed-time marriage) and it will earn us reward (sawab) also. But one of my friends said that our relations were unlawful and we had committed adultery. Please let us know whether or not our marriage had been permissible.
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Detailed Answer

In order for a man and a woman's needs to be saturated, Islam has fixed the framework of marriage (permanent and temporary). Hence, any kind of intimate relations including love talks, physical contact, fondling etc. should be after the conclusion of marriage contract. Even an engaged girl and boy who are supposed to be married legally to each to other in the future cannot derive or seek sexual pleasures from each other, though it may involve love talks and shaking hands only.[1]

Temporary marriage refers to a marriage in which a man and woman without any restrictions of getting married, willingly, along with mentioning a specific mahr (dowry) and time length for the marriage, perform a marriage contract. This type of marriage has no talaq (divorce) and the couples are separated when the time of the marriage contract time expires.[2]

According to Islam, the validity of temporary or permanent marriage depends on certain conditions[3] which must be observed. As for the conditions for temporary marriage, they are as under:

1. The formula of marriage must be pronounced; mere tacit approval and consent is not sufficient.

2. On the basis of precaution, the formula of marriage contract should be recited in correct Arabic. And if the man and the woman cannot pronounce the formula in correct Arabic, they can pronounce the formula in any other language, and it is not necessary to appoint any representatives. However, the words in the other language must convey the meaning of the Arabic formula.

3. It is permissible for a man and a woman to recite the formula of the fixed time marriage (Mut'ah) after settling the period of marriage and the amount of dowry. Hence, the woman should say: “Zawwajtuka nafsi fil muddatil ma’lumati ‘alal mahril ma’lum” (i.e. I have made myself your wife for the agreed period and the agreed Mahr), and then the man immediately responds thus: “Qabiltu”, (i.e. I have accepted), or if the representative of the woman says, “Matta’tu muwakkilati muwakkilaka fil muddatil ma’lumati ‘alal mahril ma’lum”, (i.e. I have given my client to your client in marriage for the agreed period and the agreed Mahr), and thereafter the representative of the man should immediately respond thus: “Qabiltu li muwakkili hakaza”, ( I have accepted the same on behalf of my client ).

4. The mahr (dowery) should be fixed and mentioned during the time of marriage contract.

5. The one who recites the formula should have the intention of Insha’ (i.e. the object of reciting the formula should be to make the man and the woman as husband and wife respectively). In other words, their intention by uttering these words should be that she makes herself the wife of the man, and the man effectively accepts her as his wife. The representative should also have the same intention.

6. The person who pronounces the formula should be sane and mature.

7. If the representatives of the woman and her husband or their guardians recite the formula of marriage contract, they should clearly specify the woman and the husband.

8. If a girl, who has reached the age of puberty and is mature, (i.e. she can decide what is in her own interest) wishes to marry, she must obtain her father's or paternal grandfather's permission for marriage, in case she is virgin. But if she is not virgin and she her lost her virginity by her legal husband, she does not need her father's or paternal grandfather's permission.

9. One of the conditions of marriage in general (temporary or permanent), is that a woman cannot already be in a marital relationship when getting married.

10. The man and the woman should be consenting to the marriage and they should not have been forced into it.[4]

11. If a woman was married to another person before, she must get divorced, or in the case of temporary marriage wait till the fixed term expires or is exempted the remainder of the term (by the temporary husband), and in both cases, completing the idda’ (waiting period) of divorce or idda’ of temporary marriage, it is only after completing idda’ that she can marry another person.[5]

12. The woman should not have committed adultery with the person she is planning to marry, at the time when she was legally and Islamically married to another person (God forbid); for committing adultery with a married woman makes that particular woman haram to him forever.[6]

What has been quoted above is based on the verdicts of late Imam Khomeini (r). It was a short account of the conditions of marriage. For further details about the conditions of marriage, see Tawzih al-Masail and other jurisprudential books by grand religious authorities. If you are following a Marja other than Imam Khomeini (r), you can email us again.[7]

In view of the above details, if your relations with the said person are in accordance with the foregoing conditions, your temporary marriage is in order; or else you have committed a haram act.

[1] - Extracted from question 767 (Ways of Becoming Mahram to Each Other).

[2] - Extracted from question 915 (Permissibility of Temporary Marriage).

[3] - What is mentioned here in this answer is in accordance with the verdicts of late Imam Khomeini.

[4] - Tawdih al-Masa’el, (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pp. 470-471

[5] - Tawdih al-Masa’el, (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pp. 470-471, issues 2400, 2401 and 2402.

[6] - Extracted from Genera Answer question No.1099 (Remarriage after Temporary Marriage).

[7] - Extract from question 574 (Temporary marriage and its conditions).

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