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  • Muta Marriage:muta popularly known as temporary marriage
  • Mahomed Abid Ali Kumar Kadar vs Ludden Sahiba:The plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that the defendant ceased to be his muta wife on the 20th of February, 1882.


In this Article, we will be looking at Mutawhich is an Arabic word meaning pleasure. Essentially being a pre-Islamic practice, Muta is said to have Islamic sanction which is seen through verse 24, chapter 4, of the Quran. Muta, or popularly known as temporary marriage, it is one of three forms of Muslim marriage, namely followed by, nikahhalala and nikahmisyar.

Shia Islam also permits Muta marriages which is a fixed-term temporary marriage — which is now banned by the Sunnis. Muta marriage is to noted that it is a temporary agreement for a limited time period, upon which both the parties agreed. Consequently, there is no prescribed minimum or maximum time limit, it can be for a day, a month or year(s). The said marriage dissolves itself after the expiration of the decided period, however if no such time limit was expressed or written prior, the marriage will be presumed permanent. This type of marriage is popularly seen as prostitution by the Sunni Muslims and consequently, it is not approved by Sunni butit is considered legitimate by the Twelver Shia sect, which is predominant in Iran and constitutes 90% of India’s Shia population. In terms of the conditions, no witnesses are required for muta marriages. It being just like in any other contract, the woman being a party can lay down conditions for her sexual union throughout this time limit, this contract can also i
nclude her daily maintenance. Her (muta) temporary husband has to respect these conditions. The mutamarriage will automatically dissolves at the end of the stated period. It does not matter how short the duration was, the woman has to practice abstinence lasting up to two menstrual cycles. Finally, a muta marriage is dissolved ipso facto by the expiry of the term.

As per Ithna Asharia law Muta marriage terms:

(1) The cohabitation between the parties is to be considered lawful.

(2) The children of such marriages are legitimate and subsequently have rights to inherit the properties of both the parents.

(3) Although, the Muta-husband and wife have no mutual rights of inheritance.

(4) The muta wife is entitled to get full dower even if the husband does not end up cohabiting for the full term and leaves the wife before the expiry of the term. On the other hand, if the wife leaves the husband, then the said husband has a right to deduct the amount of dower proportionate to the unexpired period of the duration.

(5) A Мutа-wife is not entitled to get any maintenance from the husband under the Shia law; although she is definitelyentitled to claim maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code.

(6) On terms of consummation which has not taken place, the wife does not need to observe any Iddat. If the Мutа-marriage terminates subsequently after consummation, then the wife is required without question to undergo an Iddat of two monthly courses. But, in the case where the marriage dissolves due to death of the husband, the Muta-wife is then required to observe an Iddat of four months ten days. In the case where the Мutа-wife is pregnant, the period of Iddat will extend till delivery of the child.

(7) There is no requirement for divorce in a Muta form of marriage. The mutamarriage in this form dissolves:

(i) By death of either party, or

(ii) On the expiry of the specified period, or

(iii) The husband leaves the wife before expiry of the term.

In terms where a husband leaves the wife before the term, it is mentioned that he had made a gift of the unexpired period in favor of the wife (Hiba-i-Muddat) because in that case he must pay the full amount of dower. If wife leaves (as mentioned earlier), her dower is deducted in proportion to the remaining period of the term.
(8) In a Muta form of marriage, if it is not known to the parties as to when the term expired but the cohabitation continues till the death of the husband, the proper inference would be that Muta continues throughout the life.
On similar ground it would be the inference where the cohabitation continues after the expiry of a known period. It is submitted that in such cases a life-long Muta is to be presumed. The problems at hand are legitimate and may inherit the properties of the parents, but husband or wife may not mutually inherit each other.


  • Mahomed Abid Ali Kumar Kadar vs Ludden Sahiba, (16 June, 1886): The word muta signifies "enjoyment," and as applied to a particular form of marriage indicates a marriage of a temporary character, the sole consideration being the dower stipulated between the parties. In this case her children are entitled to inherit, but unless there is some special contract with this object, the husband and the wife cannot inherit inter se. The plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that the defendant ceased to be his muta wife on the 20th of February, 1882.
  • Shoharat Singh vs Musammat Jafri Bibi on 18 May, 1914: It does not confer on the wife any right or claim to her husband's property, but children conceived while it exists are legitimate and capable of inheriting from their father. The Courts opinion was in favour of a muta marriage having also taken place, and of the legitimacy of the plaintiff's sisters, in which case the plaintiff was entitled to one-third only of what she has recovered under the order of the High Court.
  • Sadik Husain Khan vs Hashim Ali Khan And Ors. on 11 July, 1916: Sultan Mirza was the offspring of that union of muta marriage, the issue before the Court was off the legitimacy of Sultan Mirza. Accordingly under the Muhammadan Law, and indeed under the English Law, the legitimate son of the most low-born, debased and degraded woman to whom a man could be lawfully united has just the same proprietary right in his father's property as if his mother had been the most well-born and the purest. After viewing all the contentions, it was held in Lordships' view that the reasonable inference from all the evidence on this point is that Sultan Mirza was, at all events, the son of Zaigham-ud-Daula.
  • Hasanali Mirja And Ors. vs Nushratali Mirja And Anr. on 14 November, 1934: The defence that has been set up is that plaintiff 2 is not the lawfully wedded wife of the said gentleman and plaintiff 1 is not his legitimate son. Aziz Saheb did marry plaintiff 2 in the muta form for a period of 3 or 5 years in December 1920, taking this into consideration the Court held that plaintiff 2 continued as the muta wife of Syed Azmut Ali Mirza alias Aziz Saheb till his death and plaintiff 1 is his legitimate son.


In conclusion one must take note that the notions of Muta marriage can be evidently seen in our country. Taking India into consideration, temporary marriage is not recognized particularly, although there exists few who contract Muta marriage but such marriages are not enforceable in Court of Law. To give an instance, Hyderabad is considered to be the epicenter of the practice where marriage can be instituted for time span as short as one or two days. Take for example in a Hyderabad case it was held by the Court that there is no difference between Muta for an unspecified period and a Muta for life; a permanent nikah marriage for life can be contracted by the use of word Muta also; specification of the period for which a Muta marriage is contracted alone makes a marriage a temporary marriage for the period specified.

Taking note that the practice of Temporary “Muta” marriage is widespread in the modern times and often arranged by Imams and other Islamic leaders in Europe, America (Shia parts of Dearborn, Michigan), and in the Middle east. It is very commonly seen in the cases of destitute widows and orphaned girls that are within the clutches of temporary marriage who are often sold to old men. The sad plight for the women, is that there is no desire or pleasure that drives them into such misery; it is actually the extreme means to pay the rent and feed themselves and their children that pushes them into such marriages. Consequently due to this, such kinds of arrangements have received widespread criticism by various countries as it impliedly encouraging legalization of prostitution.

What do you think about Muta marriages? Let me know in the comments below!

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