Temporary marriage, or mut'at al-nisa, was sanctioned in Islamic law via the revelation of Qur'an 4:24. There is no debate between the various schools of Islam, as far as I know, about this verse being revealed to confirm the validity of this kind of marriage.
The debate is about its scope and whether it stays applicable to this day or was rendered void in the early years of Islam.
Ibn Taymiyya, well-known for his lack of love for the Shi'a, writes:
- According to Ibn Hazm: Ibn Mas'ud, Mu'awiya, Abu Sa'id (al-Khudri), Ibn 'Abbas, Salama and Ma'bad, the sons of Umayya bin Khalaf, Jabir (bin 'Abdullah al-'Ansari), and 'Amr bin Hurayth continued, after the death of the Prophet, to consider it (i.e. mut'a) lawful. Moreover, Jabir reported, regarding all the Companions, that they continued to uphold its lawfulness during the time of the Prophet and of Abu Bakr and almost till the end of 'Umar's caliphate.
- Then he (i.e. Ibn Hazm) adds, "Among the Successors of the Companions, Tawus, Sa'id b. Jubayr, 'Ata', and the rest of the Makkan jurists believed in its permissibility."
Source: Ibn Taymiyya al-Harrani, al-Muntaqa min Akhbar al-Mustafa, edited by Muhammad Hamid al-Faqqi, 2 volumes, Cairo: al-Maktabat al-Tijariyya, 1931 edition, volume 2, page 520.
This is confirmed from multiple earlier sources but this seemed like a nice summary to share.
The two key messages, then, are as follows:
1. Something happened towards the end of Umar b. al-Khattab's rule as caliph that made most, but not all, people stop practicing mut'a.
The event that led to many people abandoning mut'a was a declaration by 'Umar as follows:
- Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: We contracted temporary marriage giving a handful of dates or flour as a dower during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and during the time of Abu Bakr until 'Umar forbade it in the case of 'Amr b. Huraith.
Source: Saheeh Muslim: Book 008, The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 3249
In his famous Tafsir, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari under verse 4:24 that, as mentioned earlier, is the Qur’anic basis of mut’a, reports a narration from al-Hakam bin 'Uyayna who was asked whether this verse on mut'a was abrogated.
He said, "No." He then said, "'Ali said that had it not been for 'Umar's prohibition of the mut'a, no one would have committed zina except a scoundrel.'"
An easily accessible source in its English translation is Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's Ta'rikh al-khulafa where al-Suyuti has a section for the 'Firsts' of 'Umar. He says quite clearly that 'Umar was the first to prohibit mut’a. See page 136 of the book The History of the Khalifas who took the Right Way, by Ta-Ha publishers, 1995 edition.
2. Those who continued to consider it permissible included much later scholars.
These included, as mentioned by Ibn Taymiyya, Tawus b. Kaysan, Sa'id b. Jubayr, 'Ata b. Abi Rabah who were all considered authorities of hadith transmission and are relied upon by the Bukhari, Muslim and so on.
Therefore, the validity of mut’a was a bona fide valid legal position in Islamic circles even a century after the Prophet’s demise.
But by that time the waters had been muddied by the hadith fabricators.
Knowing that ‘Ali and those who were inclined towards him held it valid, and knowing that ‘Umar’s prohibition in itself was not convincing enough for all legal scholars, words were put in the mouth of ‘Ali to say mut’a had been banned by the Prophet (s) on the day of Khaybar.
There are several reasons why this does not add up, and why the narration must be discarded as false.
- Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani quotes saying that ".... in it (narration) is the banning of the nikah of mut'a on the day of Khaybar, and this thing is not known by any of the scholars of the sirah or the narrators of reports".
Source: al-'Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, Cairo edition, volume 9, page 138
- al-'Ayni, another major commentator on Bukhari's Sahih, says: "Ibn 'Abd al-Barr said that the mention of the banning of mut'a on day of Khaybar is incorrect"
Source: al-'Ayni, 'Umdat al-Qari, Cairo edition, volume 17, page 246
- al-Qastallani, another major commentator on Bukhari's Sahih, says: "al-Bayhaqi said that it (i.e. banning of mut'a at Khaybar) is not known by any of the scholars of the sirah"
Source: al-Qastallani, 'Irshad al-Sari, Cairo edition, volume 6, page 536
So there are two important matters here that touch on the essence of what happened after the Prophet (s) and why the Muslim community is divided even today.
First, it is about what happens when you follow the wrong role model after the Prophet (s) who, consistent with his temperament, decided one day to ban mut’a following his own personal judgement and also promised punishment to those who opposed that ruling.
Second, this is about how fake narrations were created to support ‘Umar’s unilateral banning of mut’a as a tool of propaganda against ‘Ali’s position. These were created long after ‘Umar had passed away, during and soon after the time of the Fitna when the community lay divided between ‘Ali’s supporters and his enemies.
A banning by ‘Umar could never stand against the position of ‘Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt who maintained that mut’a was allowed. And so the fabricators went to work to create fake hadith so they could attribute that decision of ‘Umar back to the Prophet (s) and, cheekily, do it through ‘Ali himself.
But liars always leave traces. You just have to know where to look.