The following short article was written by Dr. A. A. Ahmed and appears here with permission.
THERE ARE FIVE TYPES OF SEXUAL RELATION IN ISLAM ONLY ONE CAN BE CALLED MARRIAGE BUT THE OTHER FOUR ARE ADULTEROUS RELATIONS.
There are five types of marriages in Islam:
1-Monogamous Marriage: A lawful relationship between one man and one woman.
2-Polygamous Marriage: A lawful relationship between one man and more than one woman, not to exceed four wives at a time.
3-Muta’a or Enjoyment Marriage: A temporary lawful relationship between a man and a woman. The relationship could be one hour, two hours, three days, a month, etc. The enjoyment marriage doesn’t require a judge or witnesses. The man has to say to the woman ‘I marry you myself’ and she has to say to him ‘I marry you myself.’ This kind of marriage differs from the ordinary marriage because it does not aim at a continuous married life, but the enjoyment in a lawful way. It has been permitted by the prophet, but abolished by the second caliph, Omar Ibn al-Khattab. The Shi’te sect argues that because this kind of marriage is permitted by the Qur’an (Q Surah al-Nisa 4: 24), the caliph Omar has no legal right to abolish it. According to the Shari’a law, no one has the right to abrogate any verse from the Qur’an after the death of the prophet. However, Muta’a marriage is unlawful in Sunni Islam, but practiced until today by the Shi’te Muslims. In Iran, it is estimated that over 70% of temporary wives become prostitutes (Woodsmall 1983: 119).
4-Al-Misyar Marriage: Al-Misyar marriage institution in Islam, allows for a lesser form of relationship between man and woman than normal marriage. Al-Misyar is an official relationship between man and woman, but does neither require that the two live together, nor that the man is economically responsible for his wife. Al-Misyar allows the man to have a normal wife in an addition to his wives. The misyar wife is expected to live with her parents, and her husband can visit her according to a predetermined schedule. Al-Misyar marriage has been practiced in Saudi Arabia and Egypt for years. The Egyptian Sunni Imam Shaykh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi and the Mufti of Egypt officially legalized it in February 1999, and has also been defending the arrangement of misyar. Marriage is defined as ‘a permanent, immediate, and unconditional civil contract (which is not contingent) between two persons of opposite sex for mutual enjoyment and procreation of children’ (Verma 1988: 56). As we shall see soon this definition doesn’t apply to the concept of marriage in Islam. The two concerned persons who sign the marriage contract in Muslim countries are not the husband and wife. According to Shafi’ and Maliki Shari’a schools, ‘a woman is utterly incompetent to enter into a marriage contract either herself or for another even though her guardian should authorize her to do so. A father can contract the marriage of his virgin daughter without asking her consent whatever her age’ (Verma 1988: 24). There are no specific minimum age limitations in marriage in Islam. This is because the prophet Muhammad had married A’isha at the age of six and slept with her when she was nine years old. The Qur’an allows the girl to get married before she reaches the age of having her menstruation. Qur’an states, “Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy (Qur’an Surah Al-Talaq 65: 4). The commentator Ibn Kathir explains this verse as follows; there are three kinds of women, those who are grown old and their periods ceased and those small girls who do not yet have their periods. The old women and the underage girls who have not yet menstruated if they get married and divorced they have to stay three months before they are allowed to get married again. The third type of women is those who still have their periods or are pregnant. Those women have to stay three months and ten days before they remarry.
5-The fifth Marriage in Islam is to 72 VIRGINS IN PARADISE.
“We shall wed them unto [huris] fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (Qur’an al-Dukhan 44: 51-54).
“Therein maidens resting their glances, untouched before them by any man or jinn…Lovely as rubies, beautiful as coral” (Qur’an al-Rahman 55: 56-58).
“The fair, the beautiful ones [huris]. With large eyeballs, kept close in their pavilions” (Qur’an al-Rahaman 55: 72).
“… and maidens of swelling breasts (kawa’eb) like of age, and a cup overflowing” (Qur’an al-Muzzamil 73: 33). Kawa’eb means the woman who has breasts that are swelling and firm, not sagging (Haqq & Newton 1996: 16).
“A woman does not give trouble to her husband in this world, but his wife of the pure-eyed ones [huris] does say to her: ‘Do not give him trouble. May Allah destroy you. He is only a passing guest with you and it is very near that he will soon leave you to come to us” (Mishakat al-Masabih, book, 1, hadith no. 62).
“The prophet was asked: ‘Do we have sex in paradise? He answered: ‘Yes, by him who holds my soul in his hand and it will be done dahman, dahman (that is the intercourse done with such shove and disturbance). And when it is finished she will return pure and virgin again” (Haqq & Newton 1996: 17).
Dr. Ahmed, a convert from Islam to Christianity, is originally from the Sudan, earned a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Bombay, India and has written twelve books to date on Islam and Women. For more information on Dr. Ahmed, see here.