The Shia Law recognizes two kinds of marriage, namely (1) permanent marriage, and (2) muta marriage (literally means enjoyment or use) or temporary. The fundamental difference between the two is that in former the term is not specified while in the later it is. Sunnis do not recognizes such marriage. ‘Muta Marriage is an ancient Arabian custom.
A shia male may contract a muta marriage with kitabia woman(professing Muslim, Christian or Jewish religion) or even with a woman who is fire-worshipper but not with a woman following any other religion. But a shia woman may not contract a muta marriage with a non-Muslim.
A Shia male can contract any number of muta marriages. All the requisite formalities of marriage, such as of offer and acceptance, have to be observed in the muta marriage. It is essential to the validity of muta marriage that (1) the period of cohabitation should be fixed ( a day, a month, year , years) and that (2) some dower should be specified otherwise marriage will be void. If the period is not specified , though dower is specified, it should be considered as a permanent union, even if the parties call it a muta.
That main incidents of muta marriage are:
- No mutual rights of inheritance created between the spouses, but children considered legitimate and capable of inheriting from both parents. Thus, a muta marriage is different from prostitution and it is not a marriage for pleasure or a marriage of convenience.
- Wife is not entitled to maintenance ( unless specified). However , she is entitled to maintenance as a wife under the Cr. P.C.
- If marriage is not consummated, the wife is entitled to only half of the dower. If consummated, then full dower.
- On the expiry of the term of marriage, if the marriage has been consummated, the wife is required to undergo iddat to three courses.
- Husband has the right to refuse procreation i.e. izl.
- Marriage come to end ipso facto on the expiry the term, unless extended. Husband and wife do not have a right of divorce, but he can terminate the union earlier by making a “gift of the term”(hiba-i-muddat). In that case, the wife is entitled to full dower. The wife has a right to leave the husband before the expiry of the term of the muta marriage; if she does so, the husband has a right to deduct the proportionate part of the dower for the unexpired period.
- If there is evidence of the term for which the muta marriage was fixed and cohabitation continues after that term, muta marriage stands extended for the whole period of cohabitation. And, the children conceived during the extended period shall be legitimate.