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Last Updated: 2007/02/19
Summary of question
Why is it permitted for a married man to have a temporary wife, without his wife's approval?
question
Why is it permitted for a married man to have a temporary wife, without his wife's approval?
Concise answer

Sexual inclinations are one of the strongest human instincts which, like other natural human instincts, must be satisfied in the appropriate way. Human instincts can not be extinguished and even if we can suppress them it is not wise to do so, as that would be fighting against the laws of nature. Therefore, it is acceptable to satisfy one’s [natural] instincts a in rational way.

In many societies, at certain ages, single individuals are not able to permanently get married or married individuals due to long trips or for other reasons are unable to satisfy their sexual urge. Islam has offered an appropriate solution to these problems that stem from not being able to correctly satisfy one’s natural desires; in addition to marrying one woman permanently, polygamy and temporary marriage are also permissible.

Keep the following points in mind:

  1. We believe in a kind and merciful God who cares about his servants and does not make a ruling without a purpose; in simpler terms his rules are in accordance with human interest.

  2. If temporary marriage or polygamy were not allowed, irreparable damage would befall society. The laws of Islam are divine, therefore temporary marriage and polygamy have been deemed permissible. This right has been given to man and has not been conditioned upon the permission of his first wife. Considering a woman’s sensibility and sensitivity towards this issue; had this right been conditioned as such (upon the permission of a man’s wife), then the human interest which Allah has intended would not be achieved due to the fact that most women are opposed to their husbands marrying another woman. Of course some scholars have stated that, if a Muslim man wants to temporarily marry a non-Muslim woman of the book (a Christian or Jewish woman), while he is permanently married to a Muslim woman, then that marriage is contingent upon his permanent wife’s permission.

 

 

Detailed Answer

Sexual urges are an instinct that Allah has endowed man with. Satisfying these urges is natural and necessary. In opposition to the views of people or sects that have spread the beliefs of monks, it is not correct to rid oneself of these urges as that would lead to obsession. On the other hand complete freedom and sexual communism in satisfying these urges contradicts the goal of creation. The best and most natural form of cross-gender relations have the following characteristics:

1-       Marriage in accordance with the law

2-       Monogamy

3-       Permanent marriage

However, if monogamy or permanent marriage is not possible for certain reasons then this will lead to personal and or social problems. In this case should sexual communism or unlawful sexual relations be promoted? Or, should other actions be allowed, namely - polygamy and temporary marriage, which both could bar exploitation and or promiscuity amongst men and women?

There are two opinions in this matter:

1. The position of the correct form of Islam taken from the Noble Prophet (s) and the pure Imāms (a) accepts polygamy and temporary marriage. The establishment of a family in the context of permanent marriage and monogamy is encouraged. But due to the danger of necessity and opening closed doors these lawful methods of polygamy and temporary marriage, have been permitted.

2. The position that does not recognize the relations of one man with more than one permanent wife as lawful. Various forms of sexual communism, sexual freedom, and sexual anarchy in the west take this position even when western scholars know that forms of marriage similar to temporary marriage are a social necessity and that if temporary marriage and polygamy are prohibited uncontrollable damage will befall the society as well as the individual.

In society, especially with today’s conditions, sexual relations cannot be limited to permanent marriage. There is no government or society that is able to prohibit the satisfaction of this natural desire. But, satisfying these needs by unlawful means and by spreading adultery and prostitution which is what is taking place in most societies to the point where some societies even offer official prostitution centers or escort services for the sole purpose of satisfying sexual needs and desires. This is not accepted by Islam and Islam strongly opposes this. Islam considers such acts disrespectful to women, against women’s rights, and contrary to social morality and decency. Islam believes that such acts would break up families. Therefore, the only thing that remains is the lawful path of temporary marriage and polygamy. This means that men and women get married with a comprehensible legal document, by observing both parties rights and keeping in line with ethical, human, and legal issues. The difference between temporary and permanent marriage is time, which is the most important way of solving the problems for someone who does not have the means of getting married permanently or who has numerous other problems.

Knowing that Allah is kind and merciful to his servants and that He has instituted no law without reason and knowing that Islam proclaims divine laws, it is evident that there is a reason why polygamy and temporary marriage exist and why these right have been given to the husband.[1] According to Islam, in order for the husband to be able to exercise this right the stipulation of permission from his wife has not been made a requirement.[2] The reason for this is that if this right was made with such a requirement; considering a woman’s sensibility in this matter, most women would oppose to their husbands marrying another woman. Thus the human interest which Allah had intended would not be achieved. Of course some scholars have stated that, if a Muslim man wants to temporarily marry a non-Muslim woman of the book (a Christian or Jewish woman), while he is permanently married to a Muslim woman, then that marriage is contingent upon his permanent wife’s permission.[3]



[1] For more information refer to question 633 (the permission of polygamy for men).

[2] Jurists have said: A wife cannot prohibit her husband from these rights: Imām Khomeini Istafta’āt, v.3, p.100, question 55

[3] Please see: Seratul Nejat: Tabrizi – Volume 2, Page 270.

 

 

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