This article on ‘Muta Marriage: Concept and Laws‘ was written by Charvi Jain, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The idea of muta marriage emerged in ancient times when the Arabs had to travel far from their homes for extended periods of time due to battles, pilgrimages, or commercial journeys to prevent both from engaging in prostitution and gratifying their sexual appetites. This article will focus on familiarizing the reader with the concept of Muta Marriage, its origins, and the question surrounding its legitimacy and legality in India. It will also critically analyze similar practices and the position of women participating in these marriages.
What is a Muta Marriage?
The term Muta denotes the meaning of enjoyment or pleasure. Muta marriage is entered into by a man and a woman for the sole purpose of sexual fulfillment. The time period of the marriage is decided beforehand and hence it is temporary in nature. The payment of money to the female partner is a requisite. It is recognized by Muslim Law in the Shia sect (Athna Ashria school). This type of marriage is sort of a consensual cohabitation between individuals who have attained the age of puberty. However, they should not be under a prohibited degree of relationship.
Comparative Analysis with other forms of Marriage
Unlike in other forms of marriages, the concept of divorce isn’t recognized in muta marriages. The marriage can be terminated on the grounds of the death of either party or the expiry of the time period of marriage. Since it involves the concepts of compensation and deciding the terms beforehand like the duration of cohabitation, it can be referred to as a contract. Due to it being a contractual arrangement, the woman has no right to maintenance, and the two do not inherit from one another.
A mu’tah union’s offspring travel with the father. No extension of the mu’tah is allowed, but if a new arrangement is made with new pay for the woman, cohabitation may resume. The guidelines for mu’tah are set in stone, for instance, a temporary marriage contract can be drawn up for a time period of one hour to 99 years; it cannot be for an indefinite amount of time. This clause sets apart muta from nikah, or perpetual marriage, which has no temporal restriction. Traditional Muslim jurisprudence allows a maximum of four wives for a Muslim man to form a marital union with but in mu’tah, there is no restriction as to the number of Мu’tаh wives.
Laws surrounding the marriage
The completion of the marriage ceremony doesn’t require the presence of witnesses. Both parties to a marriage have certain rights and obligations during and after the culmination of marriage. The woman is a party that has the right to lay down certain conditions and requirements e.g. Maintenance in exchange for the sexual favour provided by her to the husband. If she refuses to be intimate, then she has to return the amount of money she obtained in the form of monetary compensation.
Abstinence is also required to be observed by the woman up to two menstrual cycles after the expiration of marriage. The husband reserves the right to unilaterally revoke the marriage. There are also provisions for a fixed stipulated time period for the meeting of partners and the number of sexual acts for a given period of time. The dower must be repaired. It could be considered a permanent or conventional marriage if the dower is indicated but the period is not. If the term fixed dower is not provided, the marriage is effectively void.
The legitimacy of Muta Marriage
The Sunnis which is the dominant sect of Islam, perceive muta marriage as a form of prostitution and hence is disapproved of them. However, it is considered legitimate by the Twelver Shia sect, which is predominant in Iran and constitutes 90% of India’s Shia population.
Position Of Women
The males without any doubt occupy a dominant position in muta marriage which further perpetuates the gender discrimination rampant in a patriarchal society. We can turn blind eye to the fact that this marriage is indeed a form of prostitution. This temporary nature of marriage put women in a vulnerable position, subservient to the man.
The matrimonial practice of Muta is not widely prevalent in India, with Hyderabad being an exception as similar practices of temporary marriages can be seen. However, they’re not enforceable in courts. There are instances of affluent men from the middle east or Arab region coming to Hyderabad to form a union in the form of muta marriage with young ladies which doesn’t last long.
There are several judgments concerning the regulation of muta marriages in the Indian legal system. One such judgment is Sadiq Hussain v Hashim Ali  where it was that children born out of wedlock in muta marriage are legitimate and are entitled to inheritance from both parents. Additionally, as stated in the ruling in the case of Hasanali Mirza v. Nushrutali, if the cohabitation starts in the Muta but lasts longer than the time period
The parties are presumed to have prolonged the term to include the entire time period, and any children born during that time will be considered legitimate.
According to Shia law, a muta wife is not entitled to maintenance. However, in Luddun v. Mirza Kumar, it was determined that she was qualified for maintenance as a wife under the requirements of section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
In this global era, a social institution like marriage must conform to the ever-evolving ideals of society. Hence, we need to reevaluate where the practice of mu’tah fits in. There is a need for disapproval to maintain the dignity of life of women and children, which are important principles enshrined in our constitution.
-  WHAT IS MUTA MARRIAGE AND WHAT ARE ITS CONDITIONS, available at https://www.writinglaw.com/muta-marriage-a-marriage-for-enjoyment/ (last visited on 30th December 2022).
-  Supra
-  Mu’tah, available at https://www.britannica.com/topic/mutah (last visited on 30th December,2022)
-  Laws related to Muslim Marriage : know more about it, available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/marriage-under-muslim-lasw/ (last visited 30th December, 2022)
-  Ritojit Dasgupta, “Muta Marriage- A Deep Insight”, Corpus Juris The Law Journal,2582-2918, (2009).
-  Supra
-  Sadiq Hussain v Hashim Ali AIR 1916 SC 27
-  Hasanali Mirza v. Nushrutali AIR 1998 SC 572
-  Muta Marriage Under The Muslim Law, available at https://lawcorner.in/muta-marriage-under-the-muslim-law/ (last visited 30th December, 2022)