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Muta Marriage

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  • The word ‘Muta’ literary means ‘enjoyment’. It may be rendered as marriage for pleasure.
  • Muta’ marriage is a marriage for temporary but a fixed period after specifying dower.
  • Muta’ marriage is void under Sunni Law because the words used at the time of proposal and acceptance must denote an immediate and permanent union.
  • The specified period may be a day, a month or a year or term of years.

Essentials of Muta Marriage

  • The period during which the union is to last should be fixed at the time when the ‘Muta’ is contracted. If no period is mentioned, the contract would be treated as permanent marriage.
  • Some dower should be specified in the contract. When the term and the dower have been fixed, the contract is valid.
  • The rule of limiting the number of wives to four as regards regular marriages, does not apply to ‘Muta’ marriages.
  • There must be a proper contract, declaration and acceptance are necessary. The parties must have attained the age of puberty and must be of a sound mind.
  • The consent of both the parties must be free consent.
  • They should not be within prohibited degrees of relationship.

Legal Incident

  • No mutual rights of inheritance are created between the spouses but if there is an agreement to the contrary, such agreement will be enforced and effective, the children will be considered legitimate and capable of inheriting from both parents.
    • The wife is not entitled to maintenance, but she can claim maintenance under Section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • If the marriage is not consummated, the wife is entitled to only half of the dower. If consummated, then full dower.
  • When marriage has been consummated, the wife is required to undergo ‘iddat’ in case of death of her husband for a period of 4 months and 10 days.
    • In case of pregnancy this period is to be extended till delivery.
    • The termination of ‘Muta’ marriage otherwise than by death of the husband is two courses if she was menstruating and 45 days if she was not.
    • Where there has been no cohabitation iddat is not necessary.
  • A husband has the right to refuse procreation.
  • Marriage comes to an end on the expiry of the term, unless extended. The husband does not have a right of divorce, but he can terminate the union earlier by making a ‘gift of the term’.

Nikah and Muta Distinguished

The following are the distinguishing points between Nikah and Muta:

Muta Marriage Nikah
It is a temporary marriage contracted for a limited period It is a permanent marriage
It gets terminated with the expiry of the stipulated term. It gets dissolved by divorce or death
It is recognized only in the Ithna Asharia Shia School. It is recognized in both the Shia and Sunni Sects.
It does not confer any mutual right of inheritance between the husband and wife. It does confer mutual right of inheritance between the husband and wife.
Divorce is not recognized in muta marriage Divorce is fully recognized in Nikah.
If the marriage is unconsummated, the wife is entitled to only half of the dower. In nikah, the wife gets full dower, no matter, the marriage is consummated or not.
The wife is not entitled to maintenance The wife is entitled to maintenance.
Dower must be specified, otherwise the marriage is void. Dower may be implied in nikah
It does not create any liabilities except those specified in the contract It creates liabilities.

Case Law

  • Sadiq Hussain v Hashim Ali (1916):
    • The Allahabad High Court held that children born out of wedlock in muta marriage are legitimate and are entitled to inheritance from both parents.
  • Luddun v. Mirza Kumar (1882):
    • According to Shia law, a muta wife is not entitled to maintenance but the Calcutta High Court held that she was qualified for maintenance as a wife under the requirements of section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.