soon-to-be Mr and Mrs Muslim
The shi'a concept of temporary marriage stems from their belief that Muhammad sanctioned it, as per sura 4 verse 24 which gives permission for men and women to enter into agreed upon marriage contracts, where the time and length of the marriage is stipulated, and gifts or money is given in exchange for the marriage. A dowry, if you will, but some see it as prostitution.
"And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise"
Mut'a is not uncommon but it is hidden. In Britain there are the beginnings of resistance to Islamic practices that clearly violate Western law, but until we can have an open and honest dialogue about the doctrine and tenets of Islam that drive people to engage in mut'a, its use will continue to rise, and and it will contribute to the undercut of British culture until Islam is the only religion.
From the BBC May 13 by Shabnam Mahmood and Catrin Nye
The temporary marriage, or nikah mut'ah, is an ancient Islamic practice that unites man and woman as husband and wife for a limited time. Historically it was used so that a man could have a wife for a short while when travelling long distances. So why are young British Muslims adopting the practice now?
"It allowed us to meet without breaking the bounds of Sharia [Islamic law]. We both wanted to date, to go out for dinner or go shopping and just get to know each other better before getting married, which we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise," says Sara.
She is a 30-year-old pharmacist from Birmingham, a Shia Muslim of Pakistani heritage.'It's basically a contract'
Sara was temporarily married for six months before committing to a full marriage to her partner.
"It's basically a contract. You sit down and stipulate your conditions - for a girl who hasn't been previously married, you do need the father's permission," she said.
"We stipulated the duration, my father's conditions, and I requested what you would call a dowry where the guy gives a gift to the girl. It's simple, straightforward and doesn't take long at all," Sara added.She is one of a significant number of young British Muslims using a temporary marriage as a way of balancing their religious beliefs with their modern Western lifestyle.
Because of the informal nature of the union there are no official statistics to show how many temporary marriages there are in the UK. But a number of senior Shia Muslim scholars and Muslim student organisations told BBC Asian Network there is something of a revival.'Taboo subject'
There is a sectarian divide among Muslims on temporary marriage. The mut'ah is practised by Shia Muslims while Sunni Muslims generally consider it haram - forbidden.
The mut'ah is particularly popular on university campuses and, according to Omar Farooq Khan, president of the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Society at Bradford University, the practice is on the increase among Shia students."Definitely nikah mut'ah is on the rise now due to students becoming more aware about it. Students are educated people so obviously they look around for a solution to their problems from an Islamic perspective," said Mr Khan.
"What else are they going to do? They can't just have a cold shower because it doesn't work and otherwise they just end up doing the haram thing and having a girlfriend or boyfriend. Many people won't talk about it though, because it is still a taboo subject," he added.'Strictly not allowed'
Khola Hassan, a Sunni Muslim and spokesperson for the UK Islamic Sharia Council, says the practice is strictly not allowed. She says it is equal to prostitution because of the time limit applied to the union.
"I have never come across a Sunni scholar, throughout history, who declares mut'ah marriage to be halal," said Mrs Hassan."There is no difference between mut'ah marriage and prostitution. There is a time limit on the marriage, and the mahr given as a gift [from the man to the woman] is the equivalent as a payment to a prostitute," she added.
The nikah mut'ah consists of a verbal or written contract in which both parties agree the length of time and conditions for the marriage.
The union can last for a few hours, days, months or years and when the contract ends so does the marriage....
Stipulations such as no hanky panky can be written into the mut'a contract, but that is the same as paying a prostitute to have dinner with you and talk. Prostitution does not only mean sexual contact, but it is the primary goal of the mut'a.
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