Muta marriage is valid type of marriage in Shia jurisprudence. The Shia law recognizes two kinds of marriage;
Muta Marriage or Temporary Marriage
A Shia of the male sex may contract a muta marriage with a woman professing the Muslim, Christian or Jewish religion, or even with a woman who is a fire-worshiper, but not with a woman following any other religion. But a Shia woman may not contract muta marriage with a non-Muslim.
It is essential to the validity of a muta marriage that, the period of cohabitation should be fixed and this may be a day, a month, a year or a term of year and some dower should be specified. When the term and the dower have been fixed, the contract is valid. If the term is fixed but the dower is not specified, the contract is void. But if the dower is specified, and the term is not fixed the contract, though void as a muta, may operate as a permanent marriage.
Consequences of Muta Marriage/characteristics of Muta Marriage
- Muta marriage does not create mutual rights of inheritance between the man and the woman but children conceived while it exists a legitimate and capable of inheriting from both parents.
- A muta marriage is dissolved ipso facto by the expiry of the term. No right of divorce is recognized in the case of a muta marriage, but the husband may at his will put and end to the contact of marriage by making a gift of the term to the wife, even before te expiration of the fixed term.
- If muta marriage is not consummated, the woman is entitled to half the dower.
- A woman married in the muta form is not entitled to maintenance under the Shia law.
Muta marriage is criticized by many Sunni jurists and also now day’s Human Right activists are against this sort of marriage and they consider it form of exploitation against women.