Taking Temp Work to Extremes

“Shi’ite Islam, the dominant form of Islam in Iran, also allows for ‘temporary wives.’ This is a provision for men to gain female companionship on a short-term basis. In a temporary marriage, or mut’a, the couple signs a marriage agreement that is ordinary in every respect except that it carries a time limit. One tradition of Muhammad stipulates that a temporary marriage ‘should last for three nights, and if they like to continue, they can do so, and if they want to separate, they can do so.’ Many such unions, however, don’t last as long as three nights. The authority for this practice rests upon a variant Shi’ite reading of a verse of the Qur’an (4:24), as well as this passage from the Hadith: ‘Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah and Salama bin Al-Akwa: While we were in an army, Allah’s Messenger came to us and said, ‘You have been allowed to do the Mut’a (marriage), so do it.’ Sunni Muslims, who account for 85 percent of all Muslims, claim that Muhammad later revoked this provision—but Shi’ites disagree. In any case, temporary wives tend to congregate in Shi’ite holy cities, where they can offer companionship to lonely seminarians” (Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), pp. 73-74).

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