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In a Nutshell: Sunni scholars generally prohibit mut'ah whilst Shi'a scholars generally allow it.

Mut’ah (Arabic: المتعة) literally means “pleasure”. Mut’ah as a contract, refers to a man and woman agreeing to be in a relationship for a fixed time period, by giving a fixed price (known as mahr) to the woman. The consent can be expressed either in verbal or written format. This enables couples to engage in sexual relationship with an Islamic religious validity.

Sunni scholars generally prohibit it, whilst Shi'a scholars generally allow it. Mut’ah has been banned in all the 5 traditional Sunni schools of fiqh (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and Zahiri). Amongst Shias, Zaydis prohibit mut’ah. Mut’ah is permitted only in the Ja’fari school. All Sunnis and Shias agree that mut’ah was allowed in the early days of Islam. There is consensus (ijma) on this. However, majority of Sunnis argue that mut’ah was prohibited later on by the Prophet (saw). Zaydi Shias too agree upon this. However, the Twelver Shias disagree and argue that this was not banned by the Prophet (saw), but rather banned by Umar (ra). They therefore, continue to allow mut’ah marriages.

Early scholars like Imam Malik and Ibn Hanbal permitted mut'ah as did many companions. It is firmly established that after the death of the Messenger of Allah, a large
number of the Salaf (rra) consider Mut'ah to be halal, and among them Sahabah. Among those Sahabah are: (Ibn Hazm, al-Muhalla, vol. 9, p. 519)
1. Asma daughter of Abu Bakr
2. Jabir ibn Abdullah
3. Ibn Mas'ud
4. Ibn Abbas
5. Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan
6. Amr ibn Harith
7. Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri
8. Salamat
9. Ma'bad Abna' Ummayah bin Khalaf

Qurtubī writes that Saʿīd Ibn al-Mussayab said that Mutʿa has been abrogated by the verse of inheritance, as no inheritance is found in Mutʿa. Aisha said that the abrogation and prohibition of Mutʿa is in the Quran, ‘And who guard their modesty, Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy’ (Quran 23:5-6). Mutʿah is not categorised as Nikah​​​ or the right hand possession (slaves). Al-Dar al-Qutni narrates that Ali Ibn Abi Talib said, ‘The Prophet prohibited Mutʿah and when the verses of Nikah, divorce, Idda and inheritance were revealed in regards to marriage, Mutʿah​​​​​​ was prohibited.’ It is also narrated from Ali that he said, ‘The fasting of Ramaḍan abrogated all other fasts, Zakah​​​ abrogated all other (necessary) charity, and divorce, Iddah and inheritance abrogated Mutʿah. Ibn Masʿud said, Mutʿa is abrogated; it was abrogated by the verses of divorce, Iddah and inheritance’ (QurtubI, 85:3)

Evidences

'Marry such women as seem good to you!' (Qur'an 4:3)

“Lawful for you is what is beyond all that, that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in license. So those of them whom you undertake mut'ah, give them their appointed wages; it is no fault in you in agreeing together, after the due apportion. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise" (Qur'an 4:24)

Imam al-Qurtubi said in al-Jami'i Li Ahkam al-Qur'an:

"All the scholars and jurists from the companions and their followers have maintained that this verse (4:24) was abrogated and that Muta'a was Haram. Abu Umar said: "All the companions of ibn Abbas in Macca and Yeman maintained that Muta'a was halal, and this was according to the madhhab of ibn Abbas."... Some companions used to read this verse differently, for the sake of interpretation. ibn Abbas, Ubay ibn Ka'ab, ibn Jubayr, ibn Masu'ud used to add the term for a fixed time, which is not part of the verse. The purpose of the this addition was to make clear the meaning of the verse."

al-Sabuni wrote in Mukhtassar Tafseer ibn Kathir, with regards to verse 4:24:

"It is generally said that the verse Then as to those whom you profit by (Istamta'tum), give them their dowries as appointed is about Nikah al-Muta'a and surely, this practice was legitimate in the beginning of Islam, then it was abrogated. al-Shafi'i and a group of scholars have said that it was allowed, then abrogated, then allowed, then abrogated twice. Others said that it was allowed once, then disallowed and was never allowed after that. It is said that it was permitted when in dire need and this is the opinion of Imam Ahmad. Mujahid said that this verse is about Nikah al-Muta'a."

"O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things(Tayyibat) which Allah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors.” (Qur’an 5:87)

It has been narrated that Ibn Abbas was asked about mut'a. He answered:

'Have you not read the sura al-Nisa.' His questioner replied: 'Of course I have.' He said: 'Did you not read: "So those of them whom you contract mut'ah to a specified term..." He answered: 'I did not read the verse like that.' Ibn Abbas then said: 'I swear by God, this is how God revealed it' and he repeated this statement twice.

Narrated 'Abdullah:

We used to participate in the holy battles led by Allah's Messenger (saw) and we had nothing with us. So, we said, "Shall we get ourselves castrated?" He forbade us that and then allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract and recited to us: 'O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no transgression.' (5.87) (Bukhari)

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 606/1209), the famous Sunni theologian, wrote mut'ah was at first permitted.

The Prophet made a 'lesser pilgrimage' ('umra) to Mecca, and the women of Mecca made themselves up especially for the occasion. Some of the Companions complained about their long separation from their wives, and the Prophet replied: 'Then go and enjoy (istimta') these women.' (Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, III, 286)

In a famous sermon, Umar (ra) banned mut'ah with the following words:

'Two mut'ah were practiced during the time of the Prophet [i.e. temporary marriage and mutat al-hajj], but I forbid both of them and will punish anyone who practices either.' (Ahmed)

It is related from Ali (ra) that he said:

'Verily the Prophet of God banned the mut'a of temporary marriage and the eating of the meat of domesticated asses.' (Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai)

It is related from one of the Companions:

'We were fighting in a battle alongside the Messenger of God, and our wives were not with us. We asked him: 'May we emasculate (istikhsa') ourselves?' He forbade us to do so and gave us permission to marry women for a period of time in exchange for an item of clothing.' (Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) said:

'Oh people! I would give you permission to practice mut'ah, but God has forbidden it until the Day of Resurrection.' (Ibn Maja)

Jabir b. 'Abdullah and Salama b. al-Akwa' said:

There came to us the proclaimer of Allah's Messenger (saw) and said: Allah's Messenger (saw) has granted you permission to benefit yourselves, i. e., to contract temporary marriage with women. (Muslim 1405a)

Ibn Abbas gave a relaxation in connection with the contracting of temporary marriage. (Muslim 1407d)

Abd Nadra reported:

While I was in the company of Jibir, a person came and said: There is difference of opinion among Ibn Abbas and Ibn Zubair about two Mut'ahs (Tamattul in Hajj and temporary marriage with women), whereupon Jibir said: We have been doing this during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (saw), and then Umar forbade us to do so, and we never resorted to them. (Muslim 1249)


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