Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

Part 3: Conclusionary Remarks on the Issue of Muta'ah

Basmala

For the past few months I have delved into every major comparitive fiqh book of the Imams of Islam I could find. I have asked several qualified students and scholars regarding the issue of muta’ah, and it is within this post that I would like to state my conclusionary views on muta’ah by responding to Br Rand Talas’s question(s). He stated (asked):

Assalamu Alaikum

Mashallah, this article really helped, as the AnsweringAnsar website has some disturbing information. However, as mentioned in Ibn Hazm’s Muhalla, muta’ah was allowed in the time of the khilafa of Abu Bakr and Umar, and it was only at the end of Umar’s reign that Umar disallowed it. So why did Umar allow it for some time, and then prohibit it later? The Shia claim that the Prophet had never prohibited it, and that the Sunnis innovated with regards to it by following Umar.

Wa’alaykum Salam Br. Rand,

Bismillah…

Firstly, I would like to state that most of what AnsweringAnsar have on their website is premised upon weak narrations and poor historical quotes. You will see them quote a Sunni work without even quoting the chain or alluding to what the Sunni Imams said regarding its authenticity. Such is a topic for another day however.

Secondly, I would like to remind myself, the shi’ah muslims who read our articles (and I know there are several as I see them quote the material here), the pseudo-salafis who are haters, and the Sunnis who care to listen, as well as the modernists who care not for authentic Prophetic tradition, that this issue is an issue of fiqh and not aqidah. Some will attempt to make it an issue of ‘aqidah, and yet some will go as far as to say that whoever permits mut’ah is a kaafir as they have stepped outside of the Ijma‘ of the Muslims!

I ask those takfiri inclined ‘muslims’ who forward tabdi‘ (the accusation of heretical innovation) on their fellow brethren for this issue , those individuals wade in the pools of takfir and care not to splash its water on whomever it reaches: would you also make takfir or tabdi‘ on Ibn ‘Abbas? Asmaa’ bint Abi Bakr? Imam Abu Bakr (‘alayhis salam)? What of the tabi’in of the Makkan school such as Tawus, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, ‘Ataa’ and Ibn Jurayj the Sunni Faqih of Makkah as well as the entire Makkan school as forwarded by the scholars? What of the Mujtahid Imam, the Sunni mufassir, faqih, muhaddith, historian, grammarian Ibn Jarir At-Tabari, the founder of his school that has since died, would you also lay upon him the same accusations you throw upon the lay shi’i or anyone else who believed it was permitted?

If you answer that you would, then I do not speak to you except to say “Salama”. If you would not, as most Muslims would not I am certain, then I ask that you step back and realize that this is an issue of disagreement amongst the most profound forefathers of the Muslim nation to have walked the earth. If they can disagree regarding it, then so can fulan and fulan!

Thirdly, to brother Rand and those who may have the wrong impression by our quoting of Ibn Hazm – not that I am stating Rand has the wrong impression; Ibn Hazm (r) did not state that Umar was the first one to forbid muta’ah. This is contrary to what the Shi’ah claim. He did state that Abu Bakr allowed it, and he used for his proof the athar of Jabir Ibn Abdullah (r) that we mentioned in part 1 of this research. Ibn Hazm, in his Muhalla, actually forwards the view that the Prophet Muhammad forbade it during his lifetime, and that it is forbidden until the day of judgement and he uses the hadith Saburah Al-Juhaniy to prove his claim, as well as the other hadith that stipulate forbiddance.

Fourthly, the claim of some of the Shi’is that muta’ah was never prohibited is a baseless claim, and can easily be answered with multiple authentic reports on the matter. In fact, Qadhi Ibn Rushd Al-Andalusi states in his masterpiece of comparative fiqh Bidayat Al-Mujtahid that the forbiddance of muta’ah is mutawatir, a mass transmitted report that conveys ‘ilm yaqini or certain knowledge in issues of law or creed.

Hafith Ibn Hajr Al-’Asqalani references the several times that the Nabi ‘alayhis salam allowed it, then prohibited it, then allowed it again, then prohibited it. He names the following reports from the sahabah reporting from the Nabi ‘alayhis salam that it was abrogated:

1) ‘Ali ‘alayhis salam (agreed upon) and quoted above.

2) Ibn Umar (Tabarani in his Awsat and Hafith Ibn Hajr stated the chain was “strong” in Talkhis Al-Habir) reputed Ibn ‘Abbas’s verdict of permissibility saying that he was a “young boy” at the time and that the Nabi ‘alayhis salam allowed it due to hardship.

3) Ibn Az-Zubayr (Muslim) who, unfortunately, openly reviled Ibn ‘Abbas on this issue.

4) Umar said while giving the khutbah, “Verily Rasulullah (‘alayhis salam) permitted muta’ah for us thrice, then he forbade it.” [Ibn Majah and Hafith Ibn Hajr stated, "with an impeccably authentic chain"]

5) Ad-Daaraqutni reports via a “Hasan chain” (according to Ibn Hajr in At-Talkhis) that Abu Hurayrah reported from the Prophet Muhammad that he ended up forbidding muta’ah. It is also reported by Al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan ((In his chapter on Muta’ah ))

6) Also reported from Saburah ibn Ma’bad  in Muslim and Ibn Majah through multiple paths.

7) From Salamah ibn Al-Akwa’ that the Prophet allowed it then forbade it as reported by Bukhari and Muslim.

8) Tha’labah ibn Al-Hakam as reported in Tabarani’s Al-AwsaT in authentic form.

9) Zayd ibn Khalid Al-Juhani who said that a man came to Rasulullah (‘alayhis salam) and asked him regarding muta’ah and he forbade it. Reported by At-Tabarani and mentioned in Majma’ Az-Zawa’id of Al-Haythami.

10) Al-Harith Ibn Ghazyah who also reported the Nabi (‘alayhis salam) forbidding it as reported by Imam At-Tabarani in his Kabir.

11) Sahl ibn Sa’d As-Sa’idi. ((Tabarani in his Kabir ))

12) Ka’ab ibn Malik. ((Tabarani in his Kabir ))

13) Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet forbade Muta’ah. It is reported by Abu Muhammad Al-Bukhari, and Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Abdul-Baqi, and Talhah ibn Muhammad, and Hasan ibn Ziyad, in the Masanid of Abu Hanifah from the way of Az-Zuhri from Anas. ((Referenced by Imam Al-Ghumari in his Al-Hidayah page 505 of Vol. 6))

14) Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yaman as reported in the Musnad of Abu Hanifah from Abu Muhammad Al-Bukhari from Abi Hanifah from Hammad from Sa’id ibn Jubayr from Hudhayfah who said, “I heard Rasulullah (‘alayhis salam) forbid muta’ah with women.”

So here are 14 authentic reports from the companions stating that the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) forbade muta’ah.

The fact is, however, that he allowed, then forbade it, then allowed, then forbade it again. Imam Al-’Ibadi reports in his Tabaqat from Imam Ash-Shafi’i that he stated,

“There is nothing in Islam that was permitted then forbidden, then permitted then forbidden, except for muta’ah.”

It is apparent that this is the reason why some companions believed it to be permitted while others did not.

Fifthly, So in answering the question of why Imam Abu Bakr is reported to have allowed it, deliberation is needed. There are several possibilities, and these are simply my thoughts on the matter, as to why Umar (‘alayhis salam) finally implemented the forbiddance and why Abu Bakr (‘alayhis salam) did not.

1) It should be noted that the forbiddance was there already, and it is perfectly possible that not all of the Sahabah knew of this forbiddance. Ibn ‘Umar makes a good point in the hadith of At-Tabarani, that is authentic mentioned above, when he argues that Ibn ‘Abbas was a young man, not yet mature enough to even enter muta’ah, so this knowledge was not pertinent to his situation and it is thus possible that the Prophet (‘alayhis salam) did not inform him.

2) It seems, as stated by some of the scholars including Al-Haazimi in his work on the “[Al-'Itibar fi]Naasikh wal-Mansukh” that this order was forbidden near the time of hajjatul-wadda’ as stated in the authentic hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud via Saburah, the Prophet’s last pilgrimage before he died. It is also reported that he forbade it at Khaybar, Hunayn, and other times. There is sufficient evidence to prove this and it is found in the works of hadith and fiqh, as we have shown.

At the time of Hajjatul-Wada’, many Sahabah had begun to spread across the continent and so this knowledge may not have been readily available, just as it was not readily available when talking in salah was prohibited and the people came back from Abyssinia thinking it was still permitted.

3) The one who claims that Abu Bakr allowed it in his Khilafah (authentically), mainly Jabir Ibn Abdullah (r) is the only one to claim this (as far as I know). Several possibilities arise to explain this issue:

a) Abu Bakr was in the middle of war and it was hard upon the mujahideen, so he saw it permitted due to the reason of “hardship“. In fact this is the reason it was permitted as mentioned by Ibn ‘Abbas (‘alayhis salam) as we quoted in the first article:

Imam Al-Bukhari narrates in his Sahih

, حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ حَدَّثَنَا غُنْدَرٌ حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ عَنْ أَبِي جَمْرَةَ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ سُئِلَ عَنْ مُتْعَةِ النِّسَاءِ فَرَخَّصَ فَقَالَ لَهُ مَوْلًى لَهُ إِنَّمَا ذَلِكَ فِي الْحَالِ الشَّدِيدِ وَفِي النِّسَاءِ قِلَّةٌ أَوْ نَحْوَهُ فَقَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ نَعَمْ

From Abi Jamrah who said that I heard Ibn ‘Abbas being asked about muta’ah with women and he permitted it. One of the freed-slaves of his said ‘That is only in severe cases and when women are scarce [or similar] and Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Yes!”

The reason for its permissibility was also stated by Ibn Mas’ud (r) as reported in the two Sahihs when he state that there were few women and times were difficult so muta’ah was permitted.

It is also reported via a Hasan chain ((as stated by Imam Ash-Shawkani  )) from Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari that he said, “Mut’ah was only permitted due to our wars, and our fears [of entering zina].” [Bayhaqi's Sunan Al-Kubraa 7/207]

b) Another possible argument is that in fact it was prohibited during the reign of Abu Bakr, however, due to his being in war for the 27 short months of his khilafah, he did not bother to enforce its prohibition due to the chaos that was on his “plate” so to speak. Historically speaking, this Caliph defeated the apostates and heretics – musaylimah etc, as well as, called war on the Sassanid Empire, and also began war with Byzantium – quite alot in the way of changing the world in the time span of only two years. My point being, we do not find in the works of fiqh many legal reports from Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (‘alayhis salam), especially during his Caliphate, and this is due to the fact that his goal was to defeat the pagan armies that threatened the very existence of Islam and the vulnerable/persecuted Muslims in their lands. Note these are simply POSSIBLE explanations, and I do not hold these views to be absolute.

Regarding the Opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas

There is yet another side to this argument and that is that Ibn ‘Abbas (r) changed his opinion from permissibility to forbiddance.

It is reported from Sa’id ibn Jubayr that he came to Ibn ‘Abbas (r) and asked him about muta’ah and said stated, “So he declared it hated or forbade [people] from it.”

This is reported by Muhmmad ibn Khalf Al-Qadhi known as Waki’ in his treatise الغرر من الأخبار.

Imam Al-Khattabi (r) reports in his Ma’alim As-Sunan that Sa’id ibn Jubayr (r) came to Ibn ‘Abbas and said that even the poets talk about how Ibn ‘Abbas allowed muta’ah to which Ibn ‘Abbas said, “SubhanAllah! I do not release this verdict, and it is not the case except as like that of maytah (carrion) is not permitted except to the one who is compelled (المضطر)!”

Chainging his opinion is also reported by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan Al-Kubraa 7/205 as well as Abu ‘Awanah in his Sahih saying that the Prophet only permitted it due to the severe difficulty upon the people at the time, then he forbade us from it.

However, Ibn Battal the explainer of Sahih Al-Bukhari and the Maliki jurist states,

“The people of Makkan and Yemen report from Ibn ‘Abbas that he permitted [muta'ah], and it is reported from him that he recanted this opinion, though these chains have weakness in them. And he permission for it is what is most authentic from him, and it is the madh-hab of the Shi’iah.” ((Quoted by Imam Ash-Shawkani in Nayl Al-Awtar ))

What is certain from the authentic reports from the Sahabah that deemed it permitted, was that they believed it was only permitted in extreme hardship, such as the availability of few women to marry or long harsh travels in war etc. This is the only time the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) permitted it. This point is forwarded by Imam Abu Bakr Al-Hazimi as well while adding that it was not permitted by them without some form of hardship.

It should be noted that when the Sunnis say that there is ijma’ on this issue, then they mean ijma‘ of their time, and not of the entire Muslim nation. Hafith Ibn Abdul-Barr (r) states,

أَصْحَاب اِبْن عَبَّاس مِنْ أَهْل مَكَّة وَالْيَمَن عَلَى إِبَاحَتهَا , ثُمَّ اِتَّفَقَ فُقَهَاء الْأَمْصَار عَلَى تَحْرِيمهَا

“The companions of Ibn ‘Abbas from the people of Makkah and Yemen held that it was permitted, then there was agreement of the jurists of the later times that it was forbidden.” [Taken from Fat-hul-Bari]

How the Argument Unfolds

So, if one were to argue for the permissibility of muta’ah they must disprove the 14 or more companions that narrated its forbiddance. The way they would do so is by saying that they were simply narrating the forbiddance at the specific time the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) did it, such as at Khaybar or Hunayn etc. Whereas after that he re-allowed it again. So these ahadith, in their view are not binding, but only giving a glimpse into the window of time.

The response would be that such could be true but then there is the hadith of Saburah ibn Ma’bad saying that the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) said it would be forbidden until the day of Judgment. There are also other ahadith wherein the Sahabi will say that he forbade it and the Sahabi then released the verdict that it was Haram thereafter. The only response to this is outright rejection of some Sahih ahadith. The proponents of muta’ah, and I have heard them boldly do so, will argue that these narratives are  single narratives that are not binding. This is where the Sunni does as he says he does and follows the authentic sunnah, as what comes to us via authentic chains cannot be rejected based upon whim or desire.

It is also possible the proponents of Muta’ah could argue that the forbiddance is general, and allowable at certain times, as was believed by Ibn ‘Abbas (r) when he stated that it is allowed in times of hardship, such as scarcity in women or jihad without the presence of one’s wife, or an extreme fear of fitnah (i.e. zinah) as alluded to in the hasan report from Abu Dharr who said “due to our fear”. This was actually when the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) allowed it. So via this argument they nullify the forbiddance by necessity. This argument is in fact the argument of the Jurists of Makkah (and Yemen) as said by Ibn ‘Abbas himself:

“SubhanAllah! I do not release this verdict [of permissibility], and it is not the case except as like that of maytah (carrion) is not permitted except to the one who is compelled (المضطر)!” ((we mentioned this before by Imam Al-Khattabi ))

The rebuttal to this argument is that the forbiddance of the Nabi (‘alayhis salam) is absolute as shown in many of the ahadith, and that this analogical deduction (qiyas) is false because eating maytah is forbidden except for the necessity to survive, whereas muta’ah is not needed to survive.

Although some could disagree and argue that their desire for intercourse is so strong that they will commit zinah, as they do not have self-control (?), and zinah (illegal fornication) leads to death by stoning, so in order to save their life they are compelled to enter into muta’ah. This argument seems a bit extreme, but one must remember the Sahabah were actually going to castrate themselves for such a fear of entering zinah!

Imam Al-Bukhari narrates:

Narrated Abdullah ” We used to participate in holy wars conducted by the prophet and we had no women with us. So we said ( to the prophet ) shall we castrate ourselves”? But the prophet forbade us to do that and therefore he allowed us to marry a woman ( temporarily ) by giving her even a garment, and then the prophet recited.
” O you who believe ! Do not make unlawful the good things, which God has made lawful for you.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud   “We used to participate in Jihad conducted by the Prophet (‘alayhis salam) and we had no women with us. So we said ( to the prophet ) shall we castrate ourselves?”  But the Prophet forbade us to do that and therefore he allowed us to marry a woman ( temporarily ) by giving her even a garment, and then the prophet recited.

“O you who believe ! Do not make unlawful the good things, which God has made lawful for you.”

This hadith is used by the proponents of muta’ah to say that muta’ah is from the “good things”, and when there is such a need it is permitted.

The response to all of this is that it is abrogated by the mutawatir authentic ahadith, and what was once considered “ok” can become “forbidden” through divine command. This is the crux of the argumentation and one can see why the Sunnis strongly abide by the mutawatir narrations. I hope that helps, and May Allah bless the Prophet Muhammad and His Family Amin!

12 Responses to “Part 3: Conclusionary Remarks on the Issue of Muta'ah”

  1. Rand Talas says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    I know that I ask a lot of questions, but this issue is especially important to me, as there are a lot of Shia where I live, and they always bring up this issue. So just one more question:

    In Sunni fiqh, ijma’ is basis for a ruling. But is ijma’ (from a legal perspective) what has been agreed upon by all scholars at one time, or throughout history. Because if it is the former, then there is ijma’ today that muta’ah is haram (assuming there are not Jariri’s living). But if ijma’ has to be maintained by ALL Muslim scholarship throughout history, then as you mentioned, the Makkan school, as well as Imam Tabari and others held it to be lawful.

  2. Abul Layth says:

    Imam Al-Aamidi in his Ihkam as well as Shawkani in his Irshad define Ijma’ as ‘unanimous concurrence of the Mujtahideen of the Umma at any period of time after the life of the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam).

    What is meant by Ijma’ in this context is that the Mujtahidin of the Ummah NOW concur upon its forbiddance.

  3. Sadiq says:

    Assalaamu aleykum.

    Imam Tabari does not seem to have believed in the same kind of mut’ah that Shias practice, if he believed in it at all. Refer to his commentary on 4:24 in response to as-Suddi’s narrations, who advocated the Shia conception of mut’ah:

    http://quran.al-islam.com/Tafseer/DispTafsser.asp?nType=1&bm=&nSeg=0&l=arb&nSora=4&nAya=24&taf=TABARY&tashkeel=1

    فَأَمَّا الَّذِي قَالَهُ السُّدِّيّ فَقَوْل لَا مَعْنَى لَهُ لِفَسَادِ الْقَوْل بِإِحْلَالِ جِمَاع اِمْرَأَة بِغَيْرِ نِكَاح وَلَا مِلْك يَمِي

    “It shows that what as-Suddi had said is nonsense and meaningless, saying it’s halal to be with a woman without nikah or possession.”

  4. Mohammad Ali says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    this story is about Muta’ah and it is sad, but very interesting.

    Please take a look.

    [URL]http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Personal/personal22.htm[/URL]

  5. Zhulfiqar says:

    Assalâmu ‘Alaykum wa RahmatulLâh,

    @Rand Talas,

    Akhî I don’t know where you got your information from but Imâm Tabari (رحمه الله) refutes the belief that Nikah al-Mut’ah is halâl, rather he says the good is with the opinion that it’s harâm in his tafsîr. Also narrations from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) saying that the verse 4:24 was with the addition “الى أجل مسمى” which can be found in his tafsîr too, he says that this qir’ah (recitation) is contradicting with the mushâf found with the Muslims and absolutely cannot relied upon since it’s not befitting that the Qur’ân contain verses which are not qat’i (certainty).

    وقد دللنا على أن المتعة على غير النكاح الصحيح حرام في غير هذا الموضع من كتبنا بما أغنى عن إعادته في هذا الموضع. وأما رُوي عن أبيّ بن كعب وابن عباس من قراءتهما: «فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعُتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ إلى أجل مسمّى» فقراءة بخلاف ما جاءت به مصاحف المسلمين، وغير جائز لأحد أن يلحق في كتاب الله تعالى شيئاً لم يأت به الخبر القاطع العذر عمن لا يجوّز خلافه.

    http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=1&tSoraNo=4&tAyahNo=24&tDisplay=yes&Page=12&Size=1&LanguageId=1

  6. Hudayfah says:

    Firstly i want to say jazaakallah gaiyr to abu layth for all his effort,this is wonderful work you doing brother.my gratitude can not be put in words but here is my weak attempt. .thank you and everyone involved in keeping this Project running. .oh. .i have a question,doesn’t going against ijmaa’ make you a kaafir?

    • Rafael says:

      It depends upon the ijma: something that is unequivocally established as part of the religion (namely the five pillars and one or two of the most famous rulings in Islam, the prohibition against pork, wine, fornication, sodomy, or the obligation of the hijab are often given as examples — the point is that the thing would have to be so well established that to go against would be equivalent of claiming that the Prophet lied about the matter, a`uðu bil Lah). May Allah bless the Prophet and his nation in every moment and time.

      You can read Sh Hamza Yusuf’s article on this issue: http://www.zaytuna.org/WhoAretheDisbelievers.pdf

  7. Hudayfah says:

    Jazaakallah brother rafael for your answer.though it does trigger more questions.for instance,is there a stronger and weaker ijmaa’?. Is the ijmaa on mut’ah of a lesser degree?.does such categories exist?. Jazaakallah

    • Rafael says:

      There are different views about ijma (article). And there are different grades of consensus in the same that we have jamhur (consensus between the Imams of the madhhabs) or say that consensus on such an issue exists when there is really a small minority that dissents (meaning that there is a “strong consensus”, an overwhelming plurality), then some definitions of consensus would also include non-Sunni sects (Shia and Kharwarij), likewise some hold (not without foundation) that consensus only exists among the Sahaba. That being said, it does not seem that there was a full consensus on the issue (of mutah) and that it would not be a matter that takes one out of Islam (generally we do not consider mainstream Shia to be kuffar, although they are heretics).

  8. hudayfah says:

    jazaakallaah for your answer brother rafael.that clears up alot

  9. Zhulfiqar says:

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

    Indeed Mut’ah is not a matter of ‘Aqîdah but fiqh. But the astonishing issue is that the Mut’ah Sayyidunâ Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) for example opined was far away of what the Twelver Shi`a propagate in their books falsely attributed to the A’immah of Ahl al-Bayt (رضي الله عنهم). Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) found Mut’ah only to be permissible in very problematic situations, and marrying only for 3 days it is also said that it is compared to the consummation of pork in very problematic situations.

    Whereas the Mut’ah in the Twelver Shi`a sect is considered an act of great virtue and above this a Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله تعالى عليه واله وسلم)! And it is not considered an act that has to be only performed out of necessity. One may even perform Mut’ah for one hour (A’uthobilLâh). Refer to their ahâdîth:
    http://www.tashayyu.org/hadiths/marriage/muta/desirability-of-muta

    So one should be cautious about the different understanding of Mut’ah by some Sahâba (رضي الله عنهم) and the heretic Shi`a Twelver sect.

    • Rafael says:

      Wa `alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

      These are interesting points, but again I’m not sure lying takes one directly out of Islam. This is not to belittle the enormity of such criminal accusations but there is world upon world of difference between a heretic and an apostate. Also it is interesting to note (and anyone who has studied the text has probably had this incidence pointed out, although it should strike a careful reader on his own) that in the middle of Imam Tahawi’s `aqida is the declaration that the people of this creed hold as valid the wiping over kuffs in wuḍu — a fiqh point in the middle of a manual on beliefs! This is interpreted to be significant because accepting this issue demands that we accept the validity of the evidences from which this ruling is derived (proofs established through hadith).

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