What are the major misunderstandings about the Shia?

Quranic Interpretaions

'Abasa watawalla ("He frowned and turned away" - 80:1)

This verse is one of the verses of the Holy Qur'an whose interpretation differs between the two main schools of thought. The majority of the Sunni scholars claim that the man who frowned and turned away from the blind person was the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), while the Shi'a scholars say that the man who frowned and turned away was one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh&hf), not the Prophet (pbuh&hf) himself.

According to the Sunni scholars, the blind man was 'Abdullah ibn Um Maktoum. He is said to have come to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) when he was conversing with a group of non-believers including Utbah ibn Rabi'ah, Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Mutallib, 'Ubay, and Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and trying to incline their hearts towards Islam. Since they were the leaders of Makkan society, if they embraced Islam, many others would follow suit. This man came and interrupted the Prophet (pbuh&hf) and asked him to teach him what Allah had taught him, not knowing that the Prophet (pbuh&hf) was busy with this group of people. So the Prophet (pbuh&hf) frowned.

The Shi'a interpretation of this verse, as narrated from the sixth imam of the ahl al-bayt, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (pbuh), is that it descended because one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh&hf), who happened to be from Bani Umayyah, was sitting next to the Prophet (pbuh&hf), and, when the blind man came, he expressed dislike and disgust at him, then turned his face away from him.[257] This interpretation is more in character with the Prophet (pbuh&hf) since frowning was not one of the Prophet's (pbuh&hf) characteristics, even with his enemies. Nor were inclining towards the rich and abandoning the poor among the Prophet's (pbuh&hf) characteristics. Allah attributes the highest moral character to the Prophet (pbuh&hf): "And verily you (Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character."[258] "And by the mercy of Allah, you (Muhammad) dealt with them kindly. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you."[259] "Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is anxious for you to be rightly guided. For the believers, he is full of piety, kind and merciful."[260] After all of these testimonies from Almighty Allah, it is difficult to believe that the Prophet (pbuh&hf) would still frown and turn away from one of his blind companions since he (pbuh&hf) began and ended his mission by expressing his affectionate support to the needy, the blind, and the disabled in society and spent nights without food to sympathize with the poor. It is strange that some commentators consider attributing this verse to one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh&hf) as an insult to the companions, while they do not consider the interpretation that this verse refers to the Prophet (pbuh&hf) as an insult to the Prophet (pbuh&hf) himself when he (pbuh&hf) is the highest example of ethical and moral behavior and is the master and leader of all the faithful.

The Father of Abraham (pbuh) and the Father of Imam 'Ali (pbuh)

According to Shi'a doctrine, all the messengers, prophets, and divinely ordained imams descend from monotheistic fathers, grandfathers, and ancestors. Allah states this when He addresses the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hf): "Who sees you, O Prophet Muhammad, when you stand up at night for prayers, and your movements among those who fall prostrate (among your ancestors)..."[261] From this verse, we understand that the father, grandfather, and great-grandfathers of the Prophet (pbuh&hf) - all, up to Adam (pbuh) - were believers in Allah; they did not associate anyone or anything with Allah. Similarly, Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was descended from monotheists; according to history, his father died as a monotheist and he went into the custody of his uncle, who is then referred to metaphorically as his "father" in the Qur'an. Likewise for the father of Imam 'Ali (pbuh), Abu Talib. Logic teaches that this man who fiercely defended the Prophet (pbuh&hf) for many years and never yielded to the demand of the Quraysh to hand him (pbuh&hf) over to them, and whose death, along with that of Khadijah's in the same year, prompted the Prophet (pbuh&hf) to call the year in which he died "the year of sadness" was a believer in Allah and one who died as a Muslim. Traditions found in some of the sahhah saying that he is being punished by Allah should not be taken as authentic, and their chains of narrators must be doubted since politics played a great role in distorting the traditions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and in the character assassination of great personalities of Islam, such as Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh).

Abu Talib's proper name was 'Abd al-Munaff or 'Imran. He defended the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) for forty-two years, both before he (pbuh&hf) started his mission, and afterwards. It has been said about him: "Whoever reads the tradition of the Prophet will know that if it were not for Abu Talib, Islam would not have been able to continue its progress."[262] There is no doubt about the full submission and faithfulness of Abu Talib to the unity of Allah and the religion of Islam.

The Myth of the Distortion of the Holy Qur'an

Only one Qur'an exists, which was revealed by Almighty Allah to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hf). No additions have been made to it, nor have there been any deletions, and nothing in it has been rearranged or otherwise tampered with. "We sent down the Book, and We are its protectors." [263] Unfortunately, some Muslims have the misconception that the followers of the ahl al-bayt have a different Qur'an, while if they were to visit the Shi'a mosques, homes, and Islamic centers and meet with their individuals and scholars, they would discover that this accusation has no basis. One of the prominent Shi'a narrators of hadith, Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Qummi al-Suduq, asserts: "Our belief is that the Qur'an which descended from Allah upon His Prophet (pbuh&hf) is what we find today between the two covers, and that is what the people have in their hands - no more and no less than that, and whoever attributes to us that we say other than that is a liar."[264] The Shi'a were always concerned over the correct transmission of the Holy Qur'an, and when the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) died, Imam 'Ali (pbuh) swore that he would not wear his robe except for prayers until he had gathered the entire Qur'an into one volume (mushaf).[265]

However, in some of the sahih books, some narrations assert that chapters or verses of the Holy Qur'an are missing or were lost. For example, Imam Bukhari narrates: "Verily, Allah sent Muhammad (pbuh&hf) with truth, and He sent down the Book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory, and understood it. Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf) awarded the penalty of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and, after him, we also awarded the penalty of stoning. I am afraid that, with the lapse of time, the people (may forget) and may say: We do not find the penalty of stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in the Book of Allah for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy or a confession."[266] Other narrations also erroneously indicate that there is a verse in the Holy Qur'an saying to stone the adulterers.[267] Imam Bukhari also narrates from one of the companions that there was a verse in the Holy Qur'an stating that abandoning the ancestors is kufr (disbelief);[268] all Muslims know that there is no such verse in the Holy Qur'an. Some other narations from other sources suggest that many verses of the Holy Qur'an are missing. Lady 'A'ishah, for example, narrates that the chapter al-Ahzab (33) used to have 200 verses during the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), but when the third caliph, 'Uthman ibn Affan, compiled the Qur'an, he could only find 73 of them.[269] 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar also narrates: "No one should say, 'I have taken (the judgment) from the entire Qur'an.' How does he know that this is the entire Qur'an? Verily, a great deal is missing from the Qur'an."[270] There are other claims which do not need to be mentioned here.

The intention here is not to pursue the issue of the false allegations of the distortion of the Holy Qur'an in various schools of thought, since all the schools of thought should be respected. The point intended is that the Qur'an the Shi'a follow is the same Qur'an that exists everywhere in the world, and that there is no other hidden Qur'an as some people claim.

Mushaf Fatima

According to the narration of the ahl al-bayt (pbut), when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) passed away, his daughter, Lady Fatima al-Zahra' (pbuh), was in so much grief that Allah sent her an angel to console her, and that angel told her about what would happen in the future. She found comfort in this news, and her husband, Imam 'Ali (pbuh), wrote down what the angel said. These writings were gathered in a book called Mushaf Fatimah. Imam Sadiq (pbuh) says: "There is nothing unlawful or lawful in that book, but it says only what will happen in the future."[271] Other reports say that whenever the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) received revelation, he would explain it to his daughter, and she would write it in a book which was named Mushaf Fatimah. The followers of the ahl al-bayt believe that this book is now with the last imam of the school of ahl al-bayt.

Mushaf Fatimah is not a Qur'an, and the only Qur'an that the followers of the ahl al-bayt have is the one which was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hf) during his lifetime and is now available throughout the world.

Naming after the Prophets and the Imams

Some Muslim families who follow the school of ahl al-bayt name their children after some of the prophets and imams in the manner of 'Abd al-Nabi, 'Abd al-Rasul, 'Abd al-Husayn, 'Abd al-Rida, and so on. Some people wonder whether this practice is permissible or not. Although the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) said that the best of names are those beginning with "'abd" and "Muhammad," there is no harm in using the previous names because the name is not intended to be literal and does not imply that the specific child is a slave of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), Imam Husayn (pbuh), or Imam Rida (pbuh) or that the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) or the imams (pbut) created him and are sustaining him. Rather, this sort of naming expresses gratitude, admiration, and love to those such as the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and the imams (pbut) who dedicated their entire lives for the welfare of humanity. The Holy Qur'an itself uses the word 'abd to mean other than "servant of Allah": for example, the phrase "min 'ibadikum" ("from your male slaves") does not mean that the slaves are worshipping their owner. The real slavery and ownership is for Allah, but, allegorically, the name 'Abd al-Rasul implies that its bearer is a slave of Allah through the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) since the Holy Qur'an states: "Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah."[272] Again, the sense of slavery is to be taken allegorically, not literally. Expressions like these find their way into common speech; people might sometimes say the phrase "my master (sayyidi)" as a form of politeness, or perhaps use the expression "may I be your ransom (ju'iltu fidak)" without meaning it literally. In the Arabic language, these phrases express gratitude and thankfulness. So naming a person 'Abd al-Husayn or 'Abd al-Rida is in no way shirk (polytheism) to Almighty Allah since all Muslims agree that He is the only one who deserves submission and obedience.

Visiting the Shrines of the Prophets and Imams

Likewise, touching and kissing the shrines of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and the imams (pbut) does not imply shirk or associate that particular person with Allah since Allah has the ultimate sovereignty in this universe, and Muslims submit to, worship, and seek help only from Him. Visiting the shrines is merely a gesture of respect. If the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) or the imams were alive, out of admiration to them, people would shake hands with them or kiss them. Since they are dead, and people know that their shrines contain their sacred bodies and perhaps their souls, touching or kissing the shrines is a way of renewing allegiance and loyalty with these leaders. The shrines themselves are made of either wood and iron and have no power for benefit or harm, but the respect and tribute is for what they represent: the souls of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and the imams (pbut). Besides, the physical closeness of the shrines to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and the imams (pbut) give them sacredness and holiness.

The Holy Qur'an teaches that when Jacob (Ya'qub, pbuh) cried over the separation of his son Joseph (Yusuf, pbuh) from him and he lost his sight, Joseph (pbuh) sent his shirt with one of his brothers and told him to put it on the face of his father so that he would regain his sight:

"Go with this shirt of mine and cast it over the face of my father. He will become clear-sighted. And bring to me all your family." And when the caravan departed (Egypt), their father (who was in Palestine) said: "I do indeed feel the smell of Joseph, if only you think me not a dotard." They (his family) said: "Certainly you are in your old error." Then when the bearer of glad tidings arrived, he cast it (the shirt of Joseph) over his face, and he became clear-sighted. He said: "Did I not say to you that I know from Allah that which you know not?"[273]

Although Joseph's (pbuh) shirt was made of regular cotton that most of the people wore at that time, Allah made it bear His blessings because it touched the body of Joseph (pbuh), and Allah's permission, authority, and blessing affected this shirt so that, when it was put on Jacob's (pbuh) face, it enabled him to see.

If touching the shrine of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) or Imam 'Ali (pbuh) or Imam Husayn (pbuh) were shirk, because these shrines are made from iron, then why do millions of Muslims touch the stones of the Holy Ka'bah? Were these stones brought from Paradise, or are they ordinary stones brought from the Hijaz? All Muslims agree that the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) kissed al-hajar al-aswad, the black stone on the Ka'bah, whereas he certainly did not go around kissing the stones in the alleyways and streets of Makkah even though they may have been more alluring than the Black Stone. Today, in most countries, both Muslim and non-Muslim, the flag is so sacred that soldiers and even civilians kiss it and put it on their faces. Does that mean they are worshipping a piece of cloth? Certainly not; the idea behind these examples is that they are glorifying the ideas behind the stone and the shrines and the flags, and these are the principles and ideas which were carried by the great leaders or countries.

Imam Bukhari narrates that whenever the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) did the ablution (wudhu'), the Muslims used to gather and collect the remaining water and put it on their faces for blessings.[274] He also narrates that even the sweat of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) was collected: "Um Salamah was putting some cloth under the Apostle of Allah (pbuh&hf) when he slept. There was a lot of perspiration from his body. She brought a bottle and began to pour the sweat in that. When the Apostle of Allah (pbuh&hf) woke up, he said: Um Sulamah, what is this? Thereupon, she said: That is your sweat which we mix in our perfumes, and they become the most fragrant perfumes."[275]

"Sadaqa Allahu Al-Adhim" or "Sadaqa Allahu al-Aliy Al-Adhim"?

There is practically no difference between saying "sadaqa allahu al-adhim" ("Allah the Most Great spoke the truth") and "sadaqa allahu al-aliy al-adhim" ("Allah the Most Great and Most High spoke the truth"), and this issue is perhaps the least significant between the schools of thought, especially since both sayings have been used, at times, in both the Shi'a and the Sunni schools of thought. However, the source of each saying in the Holy Qur'an will be stated to dispel any misconceptions which may arise in the minds of some Muslim brothers who may think that the word "aliy" refers to Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh), which it does not. The initial phrase "sadaqa allah" occurs in the Qur'an in many places, such as in: "Say: Allah has spoken the truth (sadaqa allah)."[276] "Aliy" and "adhim" are among the 99 attributes of Allah. In the Holy Qur'an, Allah mentions his name coupled with "al-adhim" by itself once,[277] and He mentions both attributes together twice. (2:255 and 42:4) "Al-aliy" is mentioned in numerous verses such as 22:62, 31:30, 34:23, 40:12, 4:34, 42:51, and others. Mentioning both attributes together ("al-aliy" and "al-adhim") is in no way a reference to the name of Imam 'Ali (pbuh) but rather an imitation of the Holy Qur'an in glorifying and exalting Almighty Allah.

Lamentation and Mourning the Tragedies of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and His Family

In general, the Holy Qur'an praises crying and those who cry for a legitimate cause. The Holy Qur'an describes many of the prophets and their followers by saying: "When the verses of the Most Gracious were recited unto them, they fell down prostrating and weeping."[278] It describes certain believers similarly: "And they say, 'Glory be to our Lord. Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled,' and they fall down upon their faces weeping, and it adds to their humility."[279] The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) has been narrated to have cried for several members of his family, such as his son Abraham. Imam Bukhari narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) said: "A child was born unto me this night, and I named him after my father, Abraham." He then sent him to Um Sayf, the wife of the blacksmith Abu Sayf. He (the Holy Prophet) went to him, and I followed him until we reached Abu Sayf who was blowing fire with the help of bellows, and the house was filled with smoke. I hastened my step and went ahead of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) and said: "Abu Sayf, stop it, as there comes the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf)." He stopped, and the Apostle of Allah (pbuh&hf) called for the child. He embraced him and said what Allah had desired. I saw that the boy breathed his last in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf). The eyes of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) shed tears, and he said: "Abraham, our eyes shed tears, and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O Abraham, we are grieved for you."[280]

The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) is also narrated to have wept for his uncle Hamzah:

When the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) returned from the Battle of Uhud and witnessed the women of Ansar weeping for their martyred husbands, he (pbuh&hf) stood and said: "But nobody is weeping for my uncle Hamzah," so the women understood that the Prophet desired people to weep for his uncle, and that is what they did. All the crying for others ceased except the crying for Hamzah.[281]

And for his cousin Ja'far ibn Abi Talib[282] and his grandson Imam Husayn (pbuh):

Lady 'A'ishah narrates that when Husayn (pbuh) was a child, he came into the presence of the Prophet (pbuh&hf) and sat on his lap, and Jibril descended and told the Prophet (pbuh&hf) that some of his nation would kill him (Husayn) and brought him a sample of the soil of Karbala and said that the land was called al-Taff. When Jibril left, the Prophet (pbuh&hf) went out to his companions with the soil in his hand, and there were Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Ali, and Hudayfah while he was weeping. They asked him why he was weeping. He said: Jibril has informed me that my son Husayn will be killed in the land of al-Taff, and he brought me this soil from there and informed me that his final rest will be there.[283]

Weeping for Imam Husayn (pbuh) is considered seeking nearness to Allah, since the tragedy of Imam Husayn is inextricably bound to the great sacrifice he endured for the sake of Allah. It is a reminder of Allah and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) who, knowing the fate of his grandson, cried at his birth, when he was a child playing, and at his last moment before he (pbuh&hf) died.

For people to show sympathy and affection towards those whom they love when they are stricken by grief and calamity is natural. The Holy Qur'an says: "Say (O Muhammad): 'I do not ask any reward from you for this (preaching the message) but love for my relatives."[284] The Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) explicitly told the Muslims that this verse refers to his ahl al-bayt - 'Ali, Lady Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn (for further information, see the section on the ahl al-bayt). Thus, it is incumbent upon the Muslims to show love and sympathy for these individuals and the trials they endured. None of the ahl al-bayt died a natural death; they all were either poisoned or killed by the sword in their struggles to defend Islam. None can fail to feel sorrow and pain for their tragedies. How could someone hear about the tragedy of 'Ashura, when Imam Husayn (pbuh) sacrificed 72 of his family members and companions for the sake of Allah and was killed in such a tragic manner, and when the women of his family - the family of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) - were taken captive and dragged from city to city, accompanying the severed heads of Imam Husayn (pbuh) and his companions - how can a person not cry? Even those who are not Muslim shed tears when hearing this story. If Muslims will cry over their own relatives, then how can they not cry over the family of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh&hf)? Imam Husayn (pbuh) was not killed to be cried for; he gave his life to save the message of Islam and was martyred to fight tyranny and corruption. But these tears and this sadness bring about a solemn pledge to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and his family (pbut).

Showing sympathy with the tragedy of Imam Husayn (pbuh) and others from the ahl al-bayt (pbut) is neither an innovation nor a bid'ah, but all should remember that following the path of Imam Husayn (pbuh) is more important in the school of ahl al-bayt than merely crying for him.

Three divorces in one session?

In Islam, divorce should be avoided at all costs. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) has been reported to have said that, in the eyes of Allah, divorce is the most hated of all permissible acts. It should only be performed as a last resort. Islam encourages family mediators to be called,[285] and divorce should be pronounced on three separate occasions following a three-month waiting period before becoming irrevocable: "Divorce is only permissible twice, after which the parties should either stay together in a goodly manner, or separate with kindness. And if he has divorced her the third time, then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband. Then if the other husband divorces her, it is no sin on both of them that they reunite, provided that they feel that they keep the limits ordained by Allah."[286] Unfortunately, some non-Shi'a Muslim jurists allow a husband to divorce his wife irrevocably by issuing three divorce pronouncements on a single occasion, which is clearly opposed to the intent of the Holy Qur'an. It has been narrated in the books of sahhah, as well as in other books [287], that the three divorce pronouncements in one session were considered only one legal divorce during the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), the first caliph, and the first two years of the second caliph's rule. After that, the second caliph allowed the three pronouncements in one session to be considered three legal divorces, and hence the wife would be unable to go back to her husband.[288]

The Khums in Islam

Khums is one of the pillars of Islam which was ordained by Allah and practiced during the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf). Khums means "one-fifth," and indicates that one fifth of a person's excess income has to be dedicated according to the Qur'an for the following: "And know that whatever of profit you make, verily, one-fifth of it is assigned to Allah and to the Messenger and to his family and also the orphans, the destitute, and the wayfarer, if you have believed in Allah, and in that which We sent down to our servant Muhammad."[289] Khums, in brief, means paying one-fifth of the surplus of one's income after taking away the expenses for the person and his dependants. It consists of two equal parts: one is the share of the imam. This part goes for constructing mosques, Islamic seminaries, Islamic schools, libraries, hospitals, clinics, orphanages, printing the Holy Qur'an and the books of hadith, Islamic books and lectures, and any other activities which benefit, defend, or propagate Islam. The second part is the portion for the poor sayyids (descendants of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf)) since they are banned from receiving sadaqa (general charity).

Many historical references from different schools of thought mention that the khums existed during the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and was banned during the time of the first and second caliphs.[290] The interpretation by the ahl al-bayt (pbut) of the word "ghanimtum" in 8:41 is "everything you gained" - whether from war, work, trade, or other sources - since the history testifies that the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) took out one-fifth from the war booty and also from assets other than the war booty during peacetime.[291] Other non-Shi'a scholars have occasionally supported this position.[292]

Temporary Marriage (mut'ah)

Discussing the legality of temporary marriage should not in any way be perceived as encouraging the youth to engage in such a practice. Permanent marriage is the norm which is encouraged by the Holy Qur'an and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) and his ahl al-bayt (pbut), and temporary marriage is the exception and last resort whenever permanent marriage cannot be afforded or becomes extremely difficult for some reason. This section does not intend to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such a marriage but only intends to address its Islamic legality with respect to the Holy Qur'an and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf).

Marriage in Islam is a sacred institution, a commitment, and a pledge by two individuals to respect and honor each other's will, dignity, honor, and aspirations. It is of two types: permanent and temporary. Both share the same rules and restrictions. Both need a prescribed form of proposal and acceptance, and the marriage - even the permanent one - is open to conditions and restrictions. If the marriage is not confined to a period of time, then it will be a permanent one, and if it is conditioned by a period of time, then it will be a temporary one. While disagreeing on the matter of temporary marriage, the scholars of other schools of thought agree that if a man intends to marry a lady for a short period of time without telling her that he will be divorcing her after a period of time and hides his intentions, the marriage is still valid. Temporary marriage seems more logical since the two spouses actually agree on the terms and conditions beforehand with full honesty. In essence, the temporary marriage is a normal marriage with a mutual agreement conditioned by a period of time. The conditions of this marriage are the following: it has a proposal and acceptance, it has a dowry for the woman, both parties have to consent, and both have the freedom to accept or decline, both have to be sane, and virgin women must have their father's or guardian's approval. However, in temporary marriage, there is no obligation for sustenance or inheritance unless it is stated and conditioned in the marriage contract. Regarding this practice, the Holy Qur'an says: "So with those whom you have engaged in mut'ah (temporary marriage), give them their dowries as prescribed."[293] In the tradition of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), scores of hadith state the permissibility of temporary marriage. Imam Bukhari narrates: There came to us the proclaimer of Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf) and said: Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf) has granted you permission to have temporary marriage - that is, mut'ah of women."[294] He also narrates:

We were on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf) and we had no women with us. We said: should we not have ourselves castrated? He (the Holy Prophet) forbade us to do so. He then granted us permission to contract temporary marriage for a stipulated period giving the women garments, and 'Abdullah then recited this verse: "O ye who believe, do not make unlawful the good things that Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Allah does not like transgressors."[295]

Imam Bukhari again narrates:

We went out with Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf) on the expedition to Banu al-Mustaliq. We were suffering from the absence of our wives, so we decided to have temporary marriage with women but by observing 'azl. But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (pbuh&hf), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born."[296]

Imam Muslim too narrates instances of temporary marriage being done at the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf)[297] and gives clear reference that temporary marriage was lawful during the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), the first caliph Abu Bakr, and during part of the time of the second caliph, who was the one who prohibited it. Even after that time, it was still accepted by some Sunni scholars, such as al-Qurtubi, who considered it as a lawful form of marriage and that it had been agreed upon by the predecessors and the successors (the salaf and the khalaf).[298] The leaders of the ahl al-bayt argue that, according to the Holy Qur'an, no one ever has the authority to make any act lawful or unlawful by his own desire. If there were an interest in banning temporary marriage, then Allah, the All-knowing, would have the priority to do so through His Prophet (pbuh&hf).

Mut'at al-Hajj

Mut'at al-Hajj means that Muslims are free from the restrictions of ihram during the time between 'umrah and the hajj, as the Holy Qur'an states in 2:196. However, spousal relations between the time of 'umrah and hajj were prohibited by the second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who declared: "O people, three things existed during the time of the Messenger of Allah that I prohibit and make unlawful and will punish for: mut'at al-hajj, mut'at al-nisa (temporary marriage), and 'hayya 'ala khayr al-'amal' (in the adhan)."[299] Similarly, he also said: "Two types of mut'ah existed during the time of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf), and I prohibit them and will punish for them: mut'at al-hajj and mut'at al-nisa."[300] Suyuti reports that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab was the first to introduce the tarawih prayers, lash eighty lashes (instead of one hundred) as a punishment for drinking, prohibit mut'ah of marriage, perform four takbirs (instead of five) in the funeral prayers, and do many other things.[301]

Tirmidhi narrates that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar was asked about mut'at al-hajj. He said that it is lawful. The person pointed out that 'Abdullah's father had been the one to prohibit it. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar answered: "If my father prohibited that, and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh&hf) did it, which one do we have to follow - my father, or the commands of the Messenger of Allah?"[302]


[257] Tafsir Majma' al-Bayan, 10:437 (in the narration of al-Sadiq)

[258] Qur'an 68:4

[259] Qur'an 3:159

[260] Qur'an 9:128

[261] Qur'an 2:218-219

[262] Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, ibn Abi al-Hadid al-Mu'tazili, 1:142

[263] Qur'an 15:9; for more details, see Aqa'id al-Imamiyyah, al-Mudhaffar, p. 41

[264] I'tiqadat al-Suduq, p. 164

[265] Kanz al-Ummal, al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, 13:127

[266] Sahih Bukhari, Book on Penalties, hadith #6327 and #6328; Adherence to the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah hadith #6778; Sahih Muslim, Book on Penalties hadith #3291; al-Tirmidhi, Book on Penalties, hadith #1351 and #1352; Abu Dawud, Book on Penalties, hadith #3835; ibn Majah, Book on Penalties, hadith #2543; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:23, 29, 36, 40, 43, 47, 50, and 55; Malik, Book on Penalties, hadith #1295 and #1297; al-Darami, Book on Penalties, hadith #2219

[267] Book of the Virtue of the Qur'an 6:508 and 9:212; Book of Ahkam; Sunan Abu Dawud

[268] Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Fara'idh, 8:540

[269] al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, 1:63

[270] ibid., 3:81

[271] al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, Kitab al-Hujjah, p. 240

[272] Qur'an 24:32

[273] Qur'an 12:93

[274] Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Libas, 7:199

[275] Sahih Bukhari, Book on Taking Permission, hadith #5809; Sahih Muslim, Book on the Virtues, hadith #4302; al-Nisa'i, Book on Ornamentation, hadith #5276; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 3:103, 136, 221, 226, 230, 231, 287; 6:376

[276] Qur'an 3:95

[277] Qur'an 69:33

[278] Qur'an 19:58

[279] Qur'an 17:109

[280] Sahih Bukhari, Book on Funerals, hadith #1220; Sahih Muslim, Book on the Virtues, hadith #4279; Abu Dawud, Book on Funerals, hadith #2719; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 3:194

[281] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 2

[282] Sahih Bukhari, 1:152; Sahih Muslim, vol. 1, Chapter on Weeping for the Dead says that the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) visited the grave of his mother Aminah and cried and caused those around him to cry too; Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, ibn Abi al-Hadid al-Mu'tazili, 3:387

[283] A'lam al-Nubuwwah, al-Mawardi al-Shafi'i; Kanz al-Ummal, al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, on the authority of Um Salamah (the wife of the Holy Prophet)

[284] Qur'an 42:23

[285] Qur'an 4:35

[286] Qur'an 2:229-230

[287] Sirat ibn Ishaq, 2:191

[288] Sunan Muslim, Chapter on the Three Divorces, 1:575; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:314; al-Bayhaqi, 7:336

[289] Qur'an 8:41

[290] Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol. 6, ch. "Sahm Dhil Qurba"; Musnad al-Shafi'i, ch. "al-Fay'", p. 187; Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 18, "al-khums"; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:320; Kanz al-Ummal, al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, 2:305; Lisan al-Mizan, 6:148; Huliyat Abu Nu'aym, 2:205; Sahih Muslim, 5:198; Sunan al-Nisa'i, p. 177, 178; Tafsir al-Tabari, 10:5

[291] For further details, see Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:314; Sunan ibn Majah, p. 839

[292] Kitab al-Kharaj, al-Qadi Abu Yusuf, p. 25-27

[293] Qur'an 4:24

[294] Sahih Bukhari, Book on Marriage, hadith #4725; Sahih Muslim, Book on Marriage, hadith #2494; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 4:47, 51, 55

[295] Qur'an 5:87; see Sahih Bukhari, Book on the Interpretation of the Holy Qur'an, hadith #4249; Marriage, hadith #4683 and #4686; Muslim, Book on Marriage, hadith #2493; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:385, 390, 420, 432, 450

[296] Sahih Bukhari, Book on Types of Selling, hadith #2077; Setting Free, hadith #2356; Muslim, Book on Marriage, hadith #2599; al-Tirmidhi, Book on Marriage, hadith #1057; al-Nisa'i, Book on Marriage, hadith #3275; Abu Dawud, Book on Marriage, hadith #1855, #1856, and #1857; ibn Majah, Book on marriage, hadith #1916; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 3:88; Malik, Book on Divorce, hadith #1090; al-Darami, Book on Marriage, hadith #2126 and #2127.

[297] Sahih Muslim, Book of Marriage, ch. 3, narrations #15-#17

[298] Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 5:132; Tafsir al-Tabari

[299] Sharh al-Tajrid; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 1:49

[300] Tafsir Fakhr al-Razi, 2:167; Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 7:206; Bidayat al-Mujtahid, 1:346; Al-Muhalla, 7:107; Ahkam al-Qur'an, al-Jassas, 1:279; Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 2:370; al-Mughni, 7:527; al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:141; Kanz al-'Ummal, 8:293; Wafayat al-A'yan, 5:197; and others

[301] Tarikh al-Khulafa', Suyuti, p. 137

[302] Sahih Tirmidhi, 4:38


Authored by Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini.

(Janab Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini was born in Karbala, Iraq. He graduated from the Islamic seminary in Qum, Iran and immigrated to the United States of America. He is the founder of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County - California.)


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Ignaz Goldziher on Imam Husain

(1850-1921) Famous Hungarian orientalist scholar.

q       "Ever since the black day of Karbala, the history of this family … has been a continuous series of sufferings and persecutions.  These are narrated in poetry and prose, in a richly cultivated literature of martyrologies - a Shi'i specialty - and form the theme of Shi'i gatherings in the first third of the month of Muharram, whose tenth day ('ashura) is kept as the anniversary of the tragedy at Karbala.  Scenes of that tragedy are also presented on this day of commemmoration in dramatic form (ta'ziya).  'Our feast days are our assemblies of mourning.' So concludes a poem by a prince of Shi'i disposition recalling the many mihan of the Prophet's family.  Weeping and lamentation over the evils and persecutions suffered by the 'Alid family, and mourning for its martyrs: these are things from which loyal supporters of the cause cannot cease.  'More touching than the tears of the Shi'is' has even become an Arabic proverb."

[Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, Princeton, 1981, p. 179]